Indian Star's Detention In U.s. Stirs Furor In Bollywood
Controversy has erupted in Mumbai, India over whether what the U.S. immigration agency has described as a random, routine interrogation of a Bollywood movie star at a Newark, NJ airport was actually a case of racial profiling. The actor, Shahrukh Khan, had complained that immigration officers searched his luggage, asked whether any U.S. citizen could vouch for him, and detained him for more than a half hour before allowing him to leave the airport. He called it an "unfortunate procedure." His fans, however, were livid. One Indian blogger suggested that "it was an outright case of harassment. Intentional to the power of infinity. I mean, where in the world do you stay if you don't know who is Shahrukh Khan? ... His wax idol [sic] is appearing in the Madame Tussauds London, England! And the US doesn't know SRK?" But some Indian marketers are skeptical about the fuss. Prabhat Choudhary of the Mumbai marketing firm Spice told the French news agency Agence France-Presse suggested the incident may been been used by the actor's public-relations advisers to generate interest in his upcoming movie -- which coincidentally deals with the experiences of Muslims living in the U.S. following the 9/11 attacks. "The kind of media which SRK got, it's helped the film for sure," he said. Mayank Shekhar, cultural editor at The Hindustan Times, remarked, ""Everyone is trying every [publicity] trick in the book. ... The usual one is the leading pair in the film breaking up or getting together or perhaps getting married. But that's so common now it's passé." And Kumar Ketkar, a veteran Mumbai newspaper editor, told AFP that the Indian public is beginning to realize that many Bollywood gossip stories appearing in the Indian press are "manufactured, and that's why some films bomb at the box office."