Hrithik snagged in Mission Malign, this time in SA The Times of India
News Service MUMBAI: After Nepal, another political potboiler involving
superstar Hrithik Roshan could be brewing on distant shores--this time
in South Africa. According to Indian film industry sources, this second
episode appears to suggest an orchestrated campaign to malign the actor
The ingredients are much the same--the award-winning star of the hit
film, Kaho naa..pyaar hai, smack at the centre of a controversy, the
ruling and opposition parties stirring up a storm, and a boycott of
Hrithik's films in South Africa looming ominously on the horizon.
According to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), a ban on all
Hrithik films could follow in South Africa. ``If the matter is not sorted
out very soon, we will be forced to take drastic action,'' said K. Morar,
a prominent member of the ANC, who spoke to this newspaper from his
party's headquarters in Durban.
It all began a few weeks ago when a poster of the superstar was circulated
on the eve of a local government election along with the November 29
edition of Post, one of the more popular weekly newspapers catering
to the 1.5 million-strong Indian community in South Africa. It showed
Hrithik striking a dance pose and carried the legend, `VOTE DA For ALL
the people'--DA being the opposition Democratic Alliance in South Africa.
The ANC's contention? Hrithik appeared to be urging the Indian community,
traditionally supporters of the African National Congress, to vote for
the opposition. As it happened, the Indian community by and large voted
for the DA. And thereby hangs this story.
The ANC reportedly wrote to the superstar in Mumbai and asked him to
clarify his stand. Sample this excerpt from the letter, ``Aside from
the concerns that you, as an international actor, are seen to be interfering
in the domestic party political affairs of another country, the fact
that you are seemingly aligning yourself with a party that represents
the interests largely of the previous oppressors is seen as your perpetrating
a betrayal against the disadvantaged masses and as placing the future
of this (Indian) community in great jeopardy.
'' Hrithik's father Rakesh Roshan immediately wrote back to the editor
of the Post, Brijlall Ramguthee, saying, ``Hrithik is not associated
with the DA or any other political party in South Africa.'' The letter
went on to add, ``Hrithik does not endorse, nor is he endorsed by any
political party anywhere in the world.'' Mr Roshan also asked the newspaper
to tender an immediate apology, which the paper subsequently carried
in one of its editions.
Despite these developments, a provincial leader of the ANC in Kwazulu-Natal
issued a public warning that ``Indians would be sidelined in service
delivery''. Mr Morar told this paper, ``In spite of the apology tendered
by the Post, Hrithik is unfortunately being viewed as a collaborator
of reactionary forces in South Africa.
'' He said the ANC was investigating the actor's ``alleged nexus'' with
the DA and that the matter could snowball into a diplomatic fracas.
``We are taking up the issue with the foreign affairs ministry in New
Delhi, so that a compromise is reached at the earliest. India is one
of our closest allies and we don't want relations to be spoiled because
Even as Roshan Junior--who is presently shooting in Mumbai--seems to
have been caught once again in a political crossfire not of his own
making, his father said emphatically, ``I wish to state categorically
that Hrithik was never and will never be a part of any country's internal
affairs. We have made our stance clear on the issue. We are not part
of this in any way. What can I do from here if there is something happening
in South Africa?''