As India and Pakistan spar over the issue of security for Shahrukh Khan, the Bollywood superstar today said it was sad that an article written by him took an "unwarranted twist" and he was forced to reiterate his patriotism. The actor seemed emotional as he read out a lengthy statement and chunks from his article, which he wrote for a weekly English magazine, to address the controversy at an event here, saying, "I do not even understand the basis of this controversy." The furore started after Pakistan's Interior Minister Rahman Malik said that India should take care of Khan's security, drawing sharp reaction from India with the government as well as the political class saying that they should be more worried over security of its citizens.
Caught between the political tussle, the 47-year-old actor said it was ironical that people were reacting to his article without even reading it. The controversy stemmed from the actor's remarks that he sometimes becomes an inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make him a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India. Reacting to Malik's statement, the actor said in a press conference here that "I would like to tell all those who are offering unsolicited advice that we in India are extremely safe and happy."
"My own family and friends, are like a mini India... where all religions, professions and a few wrongs included, all are treated with tolerance and understanding and regard for each other... I stand indebted to my audience in my country and around the world. It is sad that I have to say it to prove it, in my country, which my father fought for, during the Independence struggle. We have an amazing democratic, free and secular way of life. In the environment that we live here in my country, we have no safety issues regarding life and material. As a matter-of-fact, it is irksome for me to clarify this non-existent issue," the actor said.
Shahrukh Khan further added, "Being a public figure makes me prone to any kind of questioning, good and bad and sometimes it makes me an object of controversy as people use my name and statements to attach any positive or negative sentiment to it. This is the life I chose and stand by it... I am, because of the love and admiration that comes with being who I am in my profession. I thank everyone for making me the star I am".
He said the whole issue "has taken an unwarranted twist. I do not even understand the basis of this controversy". According to him, the article he wrote was "actually meant to reiterate that some occasions might being an Indian Muslim filmstar is misused by bigot and narrow-minded people who have misplaced religious ideologies for small gains", and ironically the same has happened through this article once again. "I think some people do not even read and are reacting to comments of people who in turn have also not read it. So I implore you all to first read it," the actor said. Shahrukh said he has written the article for a weekly English magazine.
Shahrukh said the article penned by him did not state or imply that he felt unsafe, troubled or disturbed in the country. "It (article) does not even vaguely say that I am ungrateful for the love I have received in a career spanning 20 years. On the contrary, the article says that in spite of the bigoted thoughts of some of the people that surround us, I am untouched by sceptics because of the love I have received from my countrymen and women," he said.
Looking perplexed at the frequent questions of reporters, the actor said, "I have already given the statement to you...I think that should satisfy your doubts." On the controversy, he said, "Some of the views I have been made to read are just an extension of soft-targeting celebrities and creating an atmosphere of emotional outburst and divisiveness based on religion in the minds of some. Let us not be misled by tool which use religion as an anchor for unrest and the policy of divide and rule."
"I would also like to add that my profession as an actor makes me liked beyond the borders of my nation and culture.... We all are educated and patriotic people... We do not have to prove time and again the cause of divisive politics of a few. Henceforth, ask me questions regarding my next movies, release dates and heroines acting in them," Shahrukh Khan said.