Mumbai: Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan today said that major Bollywood stars stayed silent on Padmaavat controversy not out of fear but to avoid hurting the film’s chances at the box office. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed film faced a lot of trouble ahead of its January 25 release as various Rajput groups were up in arms against the movie over its portrayal of Queen Padmavati and Rajput honour.
Shah Rukh said the perception that the industry does not unite in times of crisis is wrong. “Sometimes, when people are going in an ‘uprising’, you should just stand back. Nobody is scared, fearful or hiding their own skin 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 and we want our society to be happy,” he said at the ‘Media – Shaping the Future and Entertainment’ panel discussion at Magnetic Maharashtra event.
The actor said, he in fact, suggested the film’s team to remain quiet during the controversy, rather than giving importance to the protests. “Business of our films happen in the first few days. If you kill the first few days, the business suffers… Recently with the Viacom18 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 are certain people who go on an ‘uprising’, so to say. If more prominent actors, actresses and directors came and talked about this film… As a matter of fact, many a 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 recognised by the virtue of being on all the news channels. So don’t give them importance,” Shah Rukh said.
When asked whether creative people should have thick skin in times when creativity is in danger, the actor said dissent is a part of the process, but creative people are more emotional and they tend to become “a little wary”. “No filmmaker goes out and makes films to incite people, to trouble regions, to disturb the community. I never think anyone does that… Especially, all the responsible people. (But) Sometimes this is going to happen.”
The actor said there are always people who do not agree with a film, news piece or a web series but the films finally do release and if they are well made, people lap them up. “I don’t know about the thick skin part of it but creative people do get emotional about it. One of the emotions is also that you become a little wary – you make it with so much love. More often than not, there is a certain business attached to that emotion which you can’t let go of.”
Shah Rukh said despite facing trouble, creative people are not scared of anything but they do worry about the audience’s safety. “As a 52-year-old father, I want you to come to the theatre – safe and sound – with your child and go happily. 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, my own son watching the film.
“… No matter how much you stop them, creative people will continue making films, they will speak what they want. Sometimes there could be troubles, but they won’t be scared of the hardships.”
The actor said one needed to get used to the fact that in the era of information technology, it will become increasingly difficult to stop an idea from spreading. “The sooner the world realises that with this free flow of information, technology and communication that is happening, a time is going to come when nobody can stop any idea from flowing freely. None of us can stop it… The faster we get used to this, that no matter how much we stop it, break it, hide it, the ideas won’t stop. All the more with social media and digital. This is the beauty of the current world of entertainment and media.”