Bollywood baby starts life with controversial name

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor named their baby Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi. Taimur was the name of a brutal Mongol invader.
Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor named their baby Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi. Taimur was the name of a brutal Mongol invader.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW DELHI • Many Indians on Tuesday weighed in when one of Bollywood's most stylish couples, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan, announced she had given birth to a new baby boy.

The baby's name is Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi.

Taimur is a name many Indians may recognise from their school history textbooks.

Taimur the Lame, often known as Timur or Tamerlane, was a brutal Mongol invader who conquered many parts of Persia and central Asia.

He called himself the "sword of Islam" and used religious symbols for his conquests. He slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Indians on his way to capture Delhi in the 14th century.

In Indian history, his name is synonymous with massacres.

So when the Khans - who are fondly called Saifeena by the gushing Indian media, imitating the term Brangelina - announced their son's name, it opened a Pandora's box.

News outlets immediately began dishing out short history lessons about the mediaeval tyrant and some on social media attacked the choice.

The couple's defenders pointed out that Taimur means "like iron" in Turkic languages, trying to counter the volley of criticism on Twitter.

Much like celebrity kids such as Beyonce's daughter Blue Ivy in the United States, Taimur is already a star on Twitter.

"While their fans wait to get the first glimpse of the prince, one thing is clear - he has already been put in the spotlight, courtesy of his unique name," News18.com reported.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2016, with the headline 'Bollywood baby starts life with controversial name'. Print Edition | Subscribe