Not being secular ‘the worst kind of crime you can do as a patriot,’ says Shah Rukh Khan

FP Staff

Nov 03, 2015 07:17:00 IST

At a time when National Award-winning artists are returning their government awards and honours to protest impediments to freedom of speech and expression in India, Shah Rukh Khan said he supports the artistes who have returned their awards and believes they are brave. However, he has never really been a part of something this “huge and meaningful” and he may return his Padma Shri “symbolically”.

“Just a symbolic gesture, yes, If I have to,” he said in response to a question by Rajdeep Sardesai during a Twitter Townhall interview with India Today.

 Not being secular ‘the worst kind of crime you can do as a patriot,’ says Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan. AFP

The actor, who has been a part of blockbusters such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Devdas, was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2005.

The Chennai Express star, who turned 50 on Monday, said: "I respect the people, if they have a call that makes them feel that if the gesture is going to turn things around, I think it’s very brave, very honest, very clean. As far as I am concerned, I’ve never participated in something as huge and as meaningful, as they have. But if it calls for it yes… symbolically, yes, it is important if you feel cinema is suffering, then here’s my national award… I stand by the people who take a stand.”

When quizzed on why he hasn’t taken a stand on current issues, the way Hollywood stars do, Khan compared the situations in India and the US. “Here we have a country where there are lots of things you can’t talk, I can’t talk, what is said is broken down. America… has a little more leeway in speaking a voice. We talk about freedom of speech, but people come outside my house and throw stones if I take a stand on X thing or Y thing like I have taken before.”

He added, “In the larger interest of being able to do the job that I do, I need to, and it’s sad and it’s unfortunate and I feel extremely pathetic about it, that it’s better to be quiet and do the job. Because if you stop my film on Friday, and nobody dares to tell them ‘Don’t stop his film on Friday,’ it’s extremely sad. And it’s not just the business and the money, it’s extremely sad. I spoke, and you can’t stop my film. I don’t think in America for speaking your mind, your films are stopped on a Friday.”

He gave the FTII situation as an example and said, “If I talk about something about FTII, I will have 17 people gunning for me.” However, he did speak about it later, saying, “what’s happening is completely wrong, it’s extremely disturbing”.

When asked if he believes intolerance is rising in the country, he answered, “There is extreme intolerance, there is growing intolerance, people just put words in the air before even thinking about it. And here’s a secular country…we keep talking about modern India, we keep talking about progressing, we keep talking about the new India, and we just keep talking. I don’t think if this country is not going to be secular… the youngsters are not going to stand for it. This is the only advice I can give at 50. Intolerance religiously, not being secular in this country, it is the worst kind of crime you can do as a patriot.”

With inputs from IANS

Watch the interview below:

Updated Date: Nov 03, 2015 07:17:38 IST