The Shiv Sena may want theater-owners to boycott Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film, My Name is Khan, over his statement supporting the inclusion of Pakistani players in the IPL, but the King of Bollywood is undeterred by those threats.
In an interview in New York, he said, “If there’s a controversy and if somebody’s got an issue, it’s with me and I stand up for it. 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 also appeared confident that the Shiv Sena’s efforts would not affect the commercial viability of the film.
During a media interaction, he also described the Shiv Sena’s stance as “unhealthy”, “undemocratic” and “insensitive.”
But even as he and co-star Kajol promoted the movie in New York, Shah Rukh Khan still had to respond to questions about the multiple controversies that have beset him during the making of My Name is Khan. Among them was his detention at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey in mid-August 2009 as he arrived in the United States for a series of performances.
During the media interaction, he revealed that the airport incident hadn’t been a new experience for him nor was it limited just to America: “I have been detained at least 25 times and not only in America, in France, in England.”
In fact, he said, “I’m detained every time, this is not a new thing.” But while he had been combative in the immediate aftermath of that episode, he appeared far more diplomatic now, as he said, “If I decide to come to that country, I have to follow those rules.” He said the incident in last year “went out of proportion” as he contacted the Indian Consulate in New York because he was “getting delayed, longer than regularly.”
He also pointed out that his nine and 12-year-old children were also subjected to similar security measures at airports.
My Name is Khan opens internationally on February 12 and was shot at various locations in the United States, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. It riffs on the experience of a Muslim man after 9/11.
While films with 9/11-oriented themes aren’t new, Shah Rukh Khan said that an executive from Fox Searchlight (the studio behind this film) believed the script offered a “fresh approach” in terms of 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. Obviously the hope there is that My Name is Khan will be a crossover success, especially given that Fox Searchlight also piloted the phenomenal Slumdog Millionaire.