Salman Khan, one of Bollywood’s most successful movie stars, prompted outrage in India after saying on Saturday that workout sessions for his latest film made him feel like a “raped woman”.
Khan made the remark during media interviews over the weekend to promote the film “Sultan”, in which he plays a professional wrestler.
“It is the most difficult thing,” the 50-year-old actor told reporters in Mumbai when asked about his training schedule. “When I used to walk out of that ring, it used to be like a raped woman walking out.”
The remark sparked outrage on social media. The National Commission for Women, a government-run body for women’s rights, has written to Khan demanding a public apology within seven days.
“He has demonstrated the patriarchal mindset that is prevalent in this country – unfortunately, he will get away with it,” Lalitha Kumaramangalam, the group’s chairwoman, told a television channel.
Khan has not commented and his manager did not answer phone calls.
Khan’s remark is a particularly flat-footed one for an Indian celebrity to make. Several rape cases in India in recent years made international headlines. One gang rape, torture and murder in 2012 led to New Delhi being dubbed “India’s rape capital”.
The frequency of rape reports in India in recent years has prompted discussions and arguments over the traditionally inferior place of women in Indian society.
The rape remark is Khan’s latest brush with controversy.
Last year, a Mumbai court overturned the actor’s conviction in a 13-year-old hit-and-run case, in which he is accused of running over a homeless man.
In 2007, Khan was jailed for nearly a week for shooting an endangered gazelle on a hunting trip in the desert state of Rajasthan. He is also out on bail in a case over the killing of protected antelopes.