A day after Rahul Gandhi unnerved the Shiv Sena and made an unambiguous political statement by travelling on Mumbai’s suburban trains, the Sena changed its stand on Shah Rukh Khan’s film, My Name is Khan, saying it would not block its screening as it didn’t want to be “the only party fighting for the nation’s pride”.
Khan, too, seemed keen to talk truce. Although he said he wouldn’t apologise for favouring the inclusion of Pakistani players in the Indian Premier League, he made conciliatory noises as soon as he landed at Mumbai airport from London on Saturday.
“I stand my ground, but I’d like to meet him (Sena chief Bal Thackeray) as an artist. I have been there (Thackeray’s residence) so often. I’d like to go, have a drink with him,” he said.
There were no protests at the airport by the Sena. Sources in the party said a truce was likely if the actor met Thackeray. A meeting is expected soon — before February 12, the date of the film’s release.
The editorial in Saamna, the Sena mouthpiece, was a pointer to this. “Let Shah Rukh run his movie in any theatre; the party will not attempt to stop it because no one seems to be bothered [about the nation]. Why should Sainiks be jailed for the [nationalist] cause?”
SRK said he couldn’t do much about the differences between his ideology and that of the Thackerays. But he said: “I enjoy Balasaheb and Uddhav’s company and have interacted them as artists, but we have never had an ideological discussion. Balasaheb is a very gracious man and has helped me on many personal issues.”
Most Bollywood biggies who had twittered in support of Shah Rukh all through the controversy had not posted anything on the peace moves till late Saturday evening. His fans, however, seemed relieved. “Glad Shiv Sena understood Shah Rukh’s point,” said a tweet from Lutz Manke from Toronto.