Bollywood star Salman Khan has caused a social media uproar with a comment that he felt like a “raped woman” after filming intense wrestling scenes for his upcoming film Sultan.
The comment sparked an online backlash, and India’s National Commission for Women (NCW) urged the actor for an explanation and said it may push for a meeting.
The 50-year-old made the comment during an interaction Monday with reporters to promote the film. Khan explained that the wrestling scenes for the film, for which he followed a strenuous training regimen, saw him grappling with a person weighing 120 kilos, or 264 pounds, over many hours.
“When I used to walk out of the ring, it was actually like a raped woman walking out,” Khan was quoted by the Hindustan Times and others as saying. “I couldn’t walk straight.” Local reports also said that Khan immediately after the comment requested that media not quote it, but the quote was carried by numerous outlets.
NCW chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam blasted the comment as “irresponsible and careless” and said the actor has been sent a letter “asking him that what drove him to make such a statement, as his comments smell of the patriarchal high headedness that prevails in our country, and we are highly offended by it.” She also added that “if we don’t feel satisfied with his answer, then we will summon him before us.”
India has long been grappling with crimes against women. The 2012 fatal gang rape of a young Delhi woman sent shockwaves across the country leading to protests and debates, which were also the subject of last year’s BBC documentary India’s Daughter that was banned in the country.
While Khan has not offered any statement, his father, veteran screenwriter Salim Khan, posted an apology in a series of tweets Tuesday.
“Undoubtedly what Salman said is wrong, the simili [similie], example and the context… I apologize on behalf of his family, his fans & his friends. Forgiveness is to pardon the unpardonable or it is no virtue at all.”
With a career spanning over three decades, Khan is among Bollywood’s most bankable stars. Last year alone, he had two major hits: Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. The latter, distributed by Fox Star Studios India, opened in the top 10 in its U.S. debut, a sign of Khan’s popularity among diaspora audiences. The actor is also famous as the host of the Indian version of Big Brother, which airs on Viacom18 network’s Colors channel.
But Khan has also tackled many a controversy. Last year, he faced a five-year jail sentence for a 2002 hit-and-run case. Khan was later acquitted on appeal.
Sultan is set for a July 6 release in India, the U.S. and other countries.