While Sanjay Leela Bhansali's historical-fiction, Padmaavat, was being attacked by fringe groups, mainly the Karni Sena, the Hindi film industry maintained a stoic silence around the issue.
Bollywood's perceived lack of unity was interpreted as cowardice, with many writing op-ed pieces calling out the divisive nature of the industry members.
On Monday evening, Shah Rukh Khan was present at the Magnetic Maharashtra event, held at BKC's MMRDA grounds in Mumbai, where he was in conversation with Arnab Goswami, producer Ritesh Sidhwani, Amazon Prime Video India head, Vijay Subramaniyam, Viacom Group Head, Sudhanshu Vats, and Lokmat Editorial MD, Rishi Darda.
When the question of the industry's response to Padmaavat came up, SRK addressed it head-on. "Recently with the Viacom film (Padmaavat) we had people saying 'why don't the other stars come up, they are not coming up, oh they are hiding.' No, we are not hiding. As a matter of fact, the simple truth is this – there is a section of people who go on an 'uprising' so to say."
Khan said talking about the issue would give it more 'importance.'
He further added, "If more prominent actors, actresses, and directors came and talked about this film—as a matter of fact, many times I suggested to their team, not to talk about this, just keep quiet because you are giving wind to fire. And suddenly these people are getting more recognized by the virtue of being on all the news channels. So don't give them importance."
Preempting the question that there is a culture of fear perpetuated by the country's majoritarian politics, Khan said, "Nobody is scared or fearful as is said about Bollywood stars, 'oh these people just want to earn money and not do anything for the society.' No. We love our society. We make entertaining films for the society. And as a 52-year-old father, I want you to come to the theater safe and sound with your child and happily go, even if you don't like the film. The experience should be fantastic. That's my responsibility. So the hurtfulness is not because 'I am worried about my film' but I am worried about that girl watching the film."
The superstar, who'll next be seen as a vertically-challenged character in Aanand L Rai's Zero, said that nobody can stifle the voice of an artist and that no amount of pressure can stop creative people from telling the stories they want to.
"No matter how much we stop it, break it, hide it, the ideas won't stop," he concluded.
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