Delhi’s theatre fraternity is not too happy with their most famous alumnus — Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Last week, while in Canada for the International Indian Film Academy awards, the actor blamed his chain-smoking on his theatre days in Delhi.
“It is not my fault. It (this habit) has got all to do with theatre,” said Shah Rukh, when asked why he doesn’t kick the butt. In the 1980s, as a college student in Delhi, SRK was part of the theatre group of Hans Raj College and Barry John’s Theatre Group. “I remember, when a fireplace was put up, the guys used to go behind it to smoke and put out the fire. That’s how I also started smoking,” he said at the event.
Speaking out against his comments, Delhi-based theatre director Arvind Gaur says, “It’s a stereotypical comment. How can he relate smoking and theatre? Any person from any profession can take up smoking.” “Yes, in theatre, a lot of people claim ‘idea nahi hai, smoke kartein hain’ or ‘performance stress hai, smoke kartein hai’. But we all know that’s just an excuse in every profession,” says Harish Khanna, an actor. “On the contrary, today, there are many youngsters in theatre groups who don’t smoke,” adds Gaur.
I do theatre ... and I DON’T smoke SRK quit theatre, so why not smoking? I haven’t smoked in five years of theatre
— Viren Basoya,28
In my three years of theatre, I never felt the need to smoke
—Prakriti Sharma, 20
Theatre does not require smoking at all. What SRK said doesn’t hold truth
— Shiv Chauhan, 24
SRK’s generalisation may mislead youngsters who can use it an excuse
— Mohit Mukherjee, 20