Not being recognised is a problem Shah Rukh Khan does not encounter very often.
On Saturday, however, the 43-year-old Bollywood star, who was on his way to an Independence Day function in Chicago, was detained for close to two hours by immigration authorities at Newark Airport in New Jersey, USA.
Khan said he found the incident “a little embarrassing”.
Khan was waiting for his bags when security officials asked him to accompany them. “I thought it was nice of them to take me to another room,” he said. “But apparently that was a second check. I had my papers in order…I was taken aback.”
Khan said he chose not to say too much to the officials “because I am a little worried about Americans as they do have this issue when your name is Muslim”.
“I will take the first flight back to India once my work here is finished,” he added.
The actor was interrogated, his bags checked and he was asked to give names and phone numbers of people he knew in the US. He was not allowed any calls till the interrogation ended.
Khan then called the Indian consulate, who secured his release.
Khan has just finished shooting in the US for his next film, which is about a Muslim man who is subjected to racial profiling in the US. The film is called My name is Khan.
The star’s detention has upset his fans, Bollywood and the Indian government. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni suggested an equal and opposite reaction towards Americans visiting India. “I am of the opinion that the way we are frisked, for example I too was frisked, we should do the same to them,” PTI quoted Soni as saying.
India has formally taken up the matter with the US, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said in Delhi.
US Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer issued a statement saying, “We are trying to ascertain the facts of the case, to understand what took place. Shah Rukh Khan, the actor and global icon, is a very welcome guest in the US. Many Americans love his films.”