Superstar Shah Rukh Khan, known for his chivalrous attitude, says nobody has dared to misbehave with a woman on his film sets.
The actor, who was feted with a Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos along with Hollywood celebrities Cate Blanchett and Elton John, spoke to BBC World News at length on gender equality in Bollywood and the cultural differences in India.
In the midst of the raging debate over sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men in Hollywood, Shah Rukh Khan was asked if he has witnessed sexual misconduct in the Hindi film industry and done anything about it.
“At a level when I’m making films or working in films, we are very clear about the attitude to women. Even the smallest aspects, of the names coming first in title, which is not going to do anything, but the kind of respectability,” Shah Rukh said on the “HARDtalk on BBC World News” show.
“Even this small thing needs to be done just to bring about the equality… Just see what we’ve reduced ourselves to. You know, to put a girl’s name in front just to show what little guys we are, thinking of them as equals. And that is sad and that is strangely dichotomous when you’re talking about creativity, and you have boys and girls working together.
“I have never personally, first hand and nobody, if I may say, nobody dared misbehave with a woman on my set, I am very clear on that,” he added. A transcript of the interview was provided to IANS by BBC.
On inter-communal tensions and divisions that the world has been observing in modern-day India, the actor said: “There will be dissent for everything and I think, like you would also believe and we all believe, there has to be a discussion on it.”
Shah Rukh Khan believes there cannot be a radical standoff when there is dissent.
“I think you can have a discussion and then you can talk about it in our country – we are the biggest democracy – and if you are the biggest democracy, dissent is a part and parcel of that and as much is discussion.
“So, when you have a story and you know when you go out sometimes, there’s dissent, but as a filmmaker, as a citizen of a country and the world, you know when there’s dissent, can we just have a little bit of discussion about it and sort it out instead of you know taking standoff positions… So it is possible,” he added.
Questioned if there is a kind of Hindu nationalism that is not fostering good inter-communal ties, Shah Rukh said: “Because of social media, whenever a certain thing, when small factions or fractions of things happen now, they seem a little bigger. But the beauty of all this is that within all this trolling and anger and people expressing themselves, they’re all also connecting.
“I just see it on social media. I don’t see it live anywhere and I would be wrong to comment on it that way, but I think if you have this kind of dissent or whatever if people claim it, I think just a bit of discussion especially, finally, if it’s not going to be inclusive, everybody will suffer. But I think we’re not at that stage at all in our country,” he added.
The episode will air on Wednesday night.