The actor felt that arts, culture and sport had to be free of political agenda. "Art, culture and sport should be left free. These are things we can use to build ties. They can help to ease problems."
Stepping into the city in the midst of the raging controversy over his IPL statement and the apprehension over the release of his film My Name Is Khan, actor Shahrukh Khan said here on Saturday that while he was a proud Mumbaikar, he felt the proudest of being an Indian.
Mr. Khan, who landed here on Saturday amid heavy security, scored a point by placing the national identity above the regional and religious identity, even as he stood firm on his view on the exclusion of Pakistani cricketers from the tournament.
“I never felt I have said anything which is anti-national. We have identities that we are proud of, like our religious identities, identities of families we come from. Then there are identities connected to where we live, work, eat. They are our regional identities. But above all, there is a national identity, which comes with its rights and freedoms. I am proud of being a Mumbaikar, but I am the proudest of being an Indian, and you can’t take that away from me. I said what any Indian should say. I stand by what I have said. I have not said anything to feel sorry about,” he told journalists at the launch of a brand of Lux cozi vest, the official licensee for his team, Kolkata Knight Riders.
Mr. Khan said statements asking him to leave the country were certainly disturbing, but he felt bad when his daughter called him and asked, “Papa do we have to leave India?”
“I am also pretty tensed. I feel a little stressed. I feel very sad. I felt like crying too, trying to explain my position. I am not on a political platform; I am a regular Indian. I will feel strange to explain to people that I am an Indian. I don’t need to prove to anyone that I am proud of my country,” he said.
Asked why he had not chosen Pakistani all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, Mr. Khan said that while Razzaq was considered, “nobody can question the strategy ‘dada’ [Sourav Ganguly] and I have. At midnight, we had a meeting and were told he had a wrist injury.”
He felt that arts, culture and sport had to be free of political agenda. “Art, culture and sport should be left free. These are things we can use to build ties. They can help to ease problems.”
Hoping for a peaceful solution, Mr. Khan said he did not want to take the statements of the Shiv Sena seriously as he saw them as passionate outbursts. “When you are a radical, you get very angry and aggressive. Perhaps they [Sena] misheard, misread and misinterpreted me,” he said.