Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has sparked controversy in India by saying his heavy training schedule for an upcoming film left him feeling “like a raped woman”.
Khan made the comments in an interview to promote his latest Bollywood movie Sultan, which tells the story of an ageing wrestler trying to make a comeback.
“When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman. I couldn’t walk straight,” 50-year-old Khan said in an interview with local news site Spotboye.com published on Monday.
In the same interview, Khan said he had been able to quit every “vice” except women, saying that he had given up cigarettes, coffee and alcohol but not female company.
“There’s nothing left to quit anymore,” he told the site.
Social media users slammed the actor’s comments.
“If you are a Salman Khan fan, it’s good, but if you support his pathetic statement, you are nothing but a disgusting creature,” wrote Twitter user @gautamverma23.
Shaina N.C., a spokeswoman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra state, tweeted: “Rape is an exercise of power to destruct a woman’s self esteem, (from what) I (know) of @BeingSalmanKhan he respects #women so he must apologise.”
Khan’s personal life has also been dogged by controversy.
Last year he was cleared of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run crash and he is battling allegations he used unlicensed arms to shoot antelopes in western India.
Bollywood films are notorious for their sexism and Khan in particular is accused of having weaker female parts in his movies.
While several Indian filmmakers are breaking with stereotypes to produce women-oriented films, these are still few and far between.
More recently, in April, India’s sports stars reacted with dismay after Khan was appointed goodwill ambassador for the Olympic team in the Rio Games later this year.
His appointment, by the Indian Olympic Association, triggered a row over whether an actor was best suited to promote sports people.
Khan is one of Bollywood’s biggest box-office draws, starring in more than 100 films and television shows since his first hit “Maine Pyar Kiya” (I Fell in Love) in the 1980s.