A tired, but firm, Shah Rukh Khan described the Shiv Sena’s tirade against him as “a passionate outburst”.
Khan, who returned to Mumbai on Saturday, was speaking at a press conference at a suburban hotel for a product he endorses.
The Sena has been giving the actor a tough time for his statement that cricketers from Pakistan should have been included in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“I think what they are feeling is a passionate outburst and when we are angry we do not hear the point of view of the other individual,” said Khan, owner of the IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders. “I would love to meet them [the Thackerays] if I had any issue but that is untrue. I think I have made myself pretty clear. I do not feel sorry for what I have said as it was not anti-national.”
The Sena has been asking Khan to apologise and has warned multiplex owners against screening his film, My Name is Khan, to be released on February 12.
Multiplexes even took off the film’s promotional posters.
However, the Sena seemed to be in a less aggressive mood on Saturday. “A ‘Khan’ named Shah Rukh tells us to love Pakistan but nobody feels suffocated by his treachery,” said an editorial in party mouthpiece, Saamna. “Traitors, do what you want with the blessings of the Congress. The Sena won’t stop you. Why should the heads of Shiv Sainiks bleed and they be jailed without reason?”
Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said: “If there is so much love for Pakistan among our people, let terrorists come here and run riot. Balasaheb has nothing to say.”
Khan, however, maintained that he had nothing against the Thackerays. “I don’t think I have done anything wrong that I need to explain to anybody,” he said, adding that sports, culture and art should be kept away from politics.
Khan admitted that the past few days were stressful and said he needed medication to deal the situation. “Having heard that they will not disturb the movie is a welcome and great decision for which I am thankful to them,” he said. “I would prefer that my personal feelings are disassociated from the film.”
Sena leaders, however, maintained that a final decision on the film was yet to be taken. “Let February 12 arrive and you’ll see what happens,” said Raut.
“We did not protest today because no one seems to be bothered about patriotism,” Sena leader Diwakar Raote said.