The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SRK in film fest pull & push

Mumbai, Nov. 21: The cine employees’ federation is furious with the I&B ministry but wants Shah Rukh Khan to teach the “offenders” a lesson.

The Federation of Western India Cine Employees has requested the star to boycott the International Film Festival of India — he is the chief guest for the inaugural — because none of its members has been invited to the event.

Smarting from the “insulting attitude” of the ministry, the union of over 75,000 technicians, junior artistes and cine workers has sent him a fax asking him to express solidarity with it.

“The I&B ministry has absolutely no respect for the thousands on whose sweat and blood this film industry runs. We have sent a letter to Shah Rukh Khan bringing this to his notice. We have requested him to stay away from the function,” federation general secretary Dinesh Chaturvedi said.

“The federation controls all the craft unions of the film industry in western India and has the muscle to stop shooting in any part of Maharashtra. We have been insulted by the I&B ministry, which did not think it worthwhile to invite any of our workers or office bearers to the IFFI inauguration.”

Shah Rukh could not be contacted for comment but his office confirmed he had received the fax.

Sources in Red Chillies Entertainment, the production house the star owns, said the actor was caught in a tricky situation because he did not want to offend either side.

“The federation is powerful, and producers generally don’t like to offend it. This is a tricky situation as SRK does not want to be on the wrong side of the I&B ministry. Nor does he want to be at loggerheads with the federation as it may bring about an industry boycott,” a source said.

Earlier this week, Shah Rukh was caught in a controversy over his frequent presence at cricket matches with Om Shanti Om co-star Deepika Padukone.

An Indian cricket board official claimed he was using the matches as a platform to promote Om Shanti Om after he discussed the film during a TV chat show on the sidelines of the Jaipur one-dayer.

When Shah Rukh said in reaction that he would stop watching cricket, another BCCI official, Rajiv Shukla, went into damage control.

He said the actor was welcome to watch all matches as the board had no problem with his presence.

Shukla is a friend of Shah Rukh’s. The two are also business partners in a film entertainment channel that will be launched soon.

A section of the cricket board has also expressed misgivings about Shah Rukh’s desire to buy an Indian Premiere League team.

“The question is whether his point is to promote Brand SRK or cricket. The cricket board will have to be sure that it is cricket that takes centre stage,” a BCCI official said.

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