Movie row: Shah Rukh Khan hopeful of resolving issues with talks
BOLLYWOOD star Shah Rukh Khan tried to calm a row in India linked to the premiere Friday (February 12) of his new movie about the treatment of Muslims after the September 11 attacks amid threats of violent protests.
Activists from the ultra-nationalist Shiv Sena party said they would disrupt the film’s release in India because of recent comments by Khan regretting the absence of Pakistani cricketers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament.
The 44-year-old Muslim actor, who was at the Berlin Film Festival for the red-carpet gala premiere of My Name is Khan, said he had been distressed by the threats from right-wing Hindus.
“I think whatever issues there are with my statement, I am sure we can sit down and work it out. We cannot get into a state where we can’t have a discussion,” he told reporters.
“I don’t want any aggression, any problem, any stress with anyone. I get very disturbed and scared and emotionally hurt when things like this happen and Inshallah (God willing), by the time I get back it should be sorted out,” he added.
“Right now, I’d just like to walk down the red carpet, have some champagne, and enjoy the film and be happy.”
Khan, born in New Delhi to parents from what is now Pakistan, part-owns IPL outfit the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The Shiv Sena, which pushes a regionalist, often anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan agenda, has often backed up its stance with violence. It also sees itself as a guardian of traditional Hindu values.Cinemas in Mumbai scaled back the release of My Name Is Khan over the threats.
The film, which got mixed reviews from critics in Berlin, tells the story of an autistic man who leaves India amid seething tensions between Hindus and Muslims but runs into further discrimination in the US after the 9/11 attacks.
He marries a Hindu woman but when her son is murdered in an anti-Muslim attack because of his adopted last name Khan, he sets off on a road trip across the America of then president George W. Bush.
In the process, he rescues African-Americans struck by a Katrina-like hurricane, uncovers a terrorist plot in a mosque which he reports to the FBI, and is tortured by police who mistaken him for a would-be Bush assassin.
The happy ending takes in the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama, with an actor playing the US leader thanking Khan for his contributions to peace and security in America.
My Name is Khan is screening out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival, which runs until February 21.
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