Actor Salman Khan, pilloried for performing at the Saifai Mahotsav in Uttar Pradesh where thousands of people in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar are struggling to survive, has found an unlikely ally in Shah Rukh Khan.
“I wouldn’t take a moral high ground on it,” Shah Rukh Khan said at an event on Thursday evening.
“I have performed earlier, not knowing the situation in the area… I have seen on news what’s happening and I can understand the media’s point of view but it’s unfair to nitpick on Bollywood for everything. We are performers and that’s our job.” The two actors had a public falling out in 2008 and have barely spoken since then.
Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Deepika Padukone, were among over two dozen celebrities who performed at the Bollywood night in Saifai in Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s ancestral village on Wednesday, which closed the fortnight-long event slammed for its lavish scale and poor timing. (Defiant Akhilesh Yadav showers largesse on Bollywood as Muzaffarnagar riots victims shiver in the cold)
The stars have been excoriated and accused of ‘insensitivity’ for participating in the event. Facing a storm of criticism on social media, Salman Khan, who runs a charity, Being Human, issued a statement defending his presence.
“In Etawah, Being Human, on behalf of all artists who performed yesterday, has committed to fund 200 paediatric heart surgeries in UP,” Khan said. (Salman Khan defends decision to perform in Mulayam’s ancestral village Saifai)
“Whenever I visit a place for a performance or a promotion, I see it as an opportunity to help the locals in the areas of healthcare or education,” the 48-year-old added, detailing his organisation’s work in various cities.
Madhuri Dixit also took to Twitter to defend the performances.
“As artists and celebrities, we believe in using our reach to help others through drawing attention to the needs of the day,” she tweeted.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, whose daughter Alia also performed at the event, said on NDTV’s Left, Right and Centre that he failed as a father by not stopping her from dancing in Saifai. (Failed as a father for not stopping Alia from dancing in Saifai: Mahesh Bhatt)