Even as the Shiv Sena asked theatres to boycott Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film, My Name is Khan, because he supported the inclusion of Pakistani players in Indian Premier League teams, the actor was “saddened” but undeterred.
“If there’s a controversy and if somebody’s got an issue, it’s with me and I stand up for it,” said Khan during a media interaction in New York where he is promoting the film. “I have a take on it which is very strong and I’m happy that’s the take I have as an Indian. There is no excuse for having said what I said. I’m an Indian and I believe in that.”
He described the Sena’s stance as “unhealthy, undemocratic and insensitive”. “It is very unfortunate,” Khan said. “But I guess one has to get used to these things. I feel what I feel and say to youngsters is as an Indian and I am proud to be that. If some situations like this arises, though I wish it didn’t, I wish everything settles down...”
The 44-year-old actor appeared confident that the Sena’s efforts would not affect the commercial viability of the film. “The controversy is with me and my statement. It has nothing to do with Karan (Johar), Kajol or the film. I stand up for my comments...”
Khan also faced questions about his detention at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey in August 2009 when he arrived in the United States for a series of performances. Khan said the incident had not been a new experience. “I have been detained at least 25 times and not only in America, in France, in England. I’m detained every time.”
While he was combative in the aftermath of that episode, he appeared more diplomatic now, as he said: “If I decide to come to that country, I have to follow those rules.” He said last year’s incident “went out of proportion” as he contacted the Indian Consulate in New York because he was “getting delayed longer than regularly”.
He said his children, aged nine and 12, were also subjected to such security measures at airports.
My Name is Khan opens internationally on February 12 and was shot at various locations in the United States. It riffs on the experience of a Muslim man after 9/11.
Khan said that an executive from Fox Searchlight (the studio behind this film) believed the script offered a “fresh approach” in providing an “Eastern/Asian point of view about 9/11”.
He also said he thought this film, which has a heavy dose of English dialogue, “will touch a lot more people in the Eastern and Western world” than the average Bollywood movie.
(With inputs from agencies)