Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan on Thursday addressed the subject of social media toxicity and cancel culture, sending out a call for “positivity”, in remarks that assume significance amid protests against his upcoming movie ‘Pathaan’.
“The collective narrative of our times is shaped by social media. Contrary to the belief that social media will affect cinema negatively, I believe cinema has an even more important role to play now,” he said at the opening of the 28th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF).
“Social media is often driven by a certain narrowness of view that limits human nature to its baser self. I read somewhere that negativity increases social media consumption and thereby increases its commercial value as well. Such pursuits enclose the collective narrative, making it divisive and destructive,” Mr Khan said.
“We haven’t been able to meet for a while, but the world is becoming normal now. We are all happy and I am the happiest. And I have no qualms in saying, that no matter what the world does, me and you, and all positive people in the world are ALIVE,” he added.
The remarks come amid attacks on his next release ‘Pathaan’ by right-wing social media users backed by some leaders of the BJP, which governs at the centre – in the second such vitriolic campaign this year against a Muslim movie star after Aamir Khan’s ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ earlier.
Among those who have targeted the movie are Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra of the BJP, who claimed one of the songs in the film showed a “contaminated mindset” and threatened to block its release in the state.
Central to the controversy around ‘Pathaan’ is an allegation that in the song ‘Besharam Rang’ (Shameless Colour), actor Deepika Padukone wears an orange outfit which, according to its detractors, resembles the saffron that is sacred in Hinduism and is the main colour of the BJP.
Campaigns based on such scanty excuses against Mr Khan and those of his colleagues who are not seen as unabashed supporters of the ruling party have grown in recent years, threatening the country’s vast film industry.