New Delhi, From the film fraternity, his fans to artists and political parties – Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is drawing mass support in the wake of the Shiv Sena’s verbal assault on him for favouring Pakistani players’ inclusion in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Shiv Sena has sent feelers to Mumbai cinema halls to boycott the actor’s forthcoming film “My Name Is Khan”, which releases Feb 12. Sena workers have removed the film posters from several theatres.
Shah Rukh’s colleagues are expressing their support for him on micro-blogging website Twitter.
“Shah Rukh is the most secular and the most fair guy I know! It’s unfair to judge his movie based on his opinions! I do love Karan Johar and Shah Rukh! Both are very dear to me and I will defend them if someone writes nonsense about them,” film star Preity Zinta tweeted.
Added Anupam Kher: “Mr P. Chidambaram was displeased too for not including Pak (istani) players in IPL. No outcry about it. May be (because) he is the Home Minister. You need guts to go for him (sic).”
Others who have joined the online forum include directors Mahesh Bhatt and Anubhav Sinha. Veterans like Shabana Azmi and Shyam Benegal have also rallied in support for the actor on national television.
“The state must step into this immediately. The state has enough power. Why is the state not doing anything?” said Benegal.
Aamir Khan also said that if he were to select IPL players, he would do so only on the basis of their performance and not nationality.
Shah Rukh, who owns the Kolkata Knight Riders team of IPL, had spoken against the exclusion of Pakistani cricketers from the forthcoming tournament. The Shiv Sena said if Shah Rukh failed to apologise for his statement not only would his “My Name Is Khan” be banned, but all his films could face a ban in Mumbai.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come out in open support of the star.
The artists’ community Thursday also extended strong support to the Bollywood superstar.
A statement by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT)- an umbrella organisation of artists – said: “We, the community of artists, actors, musicians and cultural artists are in full solidarity with the clear stand taken by Shah Rukh Khan in facing the recent threats against him by the Shiv Sena.
“We salute the courage of Shah Rukh Khan in standing up to these threats and want him to know that the entire creative arts community stands by him,” said the statement, signed by well-known theatre personality M.K. Raina, artist and photojournalist Ram Rahman, artist Vivan Sundaram, designer and filmmaker Parthiv Shah and author Indira Chandrasekhar.
The Internet has also seen a flood of communities for the actor like “Support Shah Rukh Khan, Support India” and “We support Shah Rukh Khan and ‘My Name Is Khan'” on social networking website Facebook.
“Shiv Sena and MNS are treating Maharashtrians as slaves… They targeting Shah Rukh because he is a Khan. They never protested against L.K. Advani when he praised (Muhammad Ali) Jinnah,” Shakeel Shaikh posted on Facebook.
“The Sena can be pacified if Karan Johar and Shah Rukh change the name of their film from ‘My Name Is Khan’ to “My Name Is Khan (vilkar)’,” posts Mumbai-based xylo26 on Orkut.
Student and fans of Shah Rukh are not happy with the situation.
“India is a democratic country and everyone has the freedom to express his views. If Shah Rukh Khan feels that the Pakistani players should be included in IPL, it is singularly his opinion and one should respect it. Political parties like Shiv Sena are free to disagree with it but they are nobody to judge what’s right or wrong,” Poulomi Nath, a Delhi University (DU) student, told IANS.
Added Asif Ali Ansari, another DU student: “Cricket is a game irrespective of cast, colour, creed or religion and politics should not come in it. Shah Rukh Khan is right when he said Pakistan should play in the third session of IPL. How can they (Shiv Sena) make a ruckus out of it?”