Bollywood star Salman Khan has stirred outrage by joking that he felt like a “raped woman” after a physically grueling film shoot.
Khan was describing the demands of his role as a wrestler in the forthcoming blockbuster Sultan when he drew the controversial comparison.
“While shooting, during those six hours, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved,” said Khan, 50. “When I used to walk out of that ring I felt like a raped woman… I could not take steps.”
The comment has triggered a social media storm in India, where rampant sexual violence against women is a major social issue.
“There cannot be anything more inhuman than using raped woman analogy. Shame,” wrote Twitter user Moni.
The actor was describing to a group of journalists the filming of scenes in which he and a co-star would grapple and throw one another across the wrestling ring, which he said would last for up to six hours in order to capture the action from multiple camera angles.
According to an audio recording of the interview circulating online, the comment was greeted with laughter by journalists, after which the actor appeared to try to partially retract his choice of words, saying: “I don’t think I should have…”
One of India’s boggest movies stars since the 1990s, Salman Khan has been enjoying a career renaissance of late with a string of recent hits.
Sultan, in which Khan plays a wrestler from humble origins who goes on to achieve international glory, is one of this summer’s most anticipated Bollywood films.
Khan is no stranger to controversy. He was convicted in May 2015 of culpable homicide over a hit-and-run incident in which one person was killed and four injured, but the judgement was overruled in December by Bombay High Court.
It is now the subject of a petition in the Supreme Court, which has been adjourned until July. In the same interview in which he made the “rape” comment, he also refers to women as his “vice”.
The actor’s representatives have insisted the comment was taken out of context and was meant in humor.