The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Aamir, the unapologetic

Mumbai, May 25: A rare face of Bollywood was on display today as Aamir Khan stood up to a political party, refusing to apologise as demanded by the BJP for his support to the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

“I am up against a big organisation. I may get crushed eventually. But I will not back off,” said the actor, who was once known as the chocolate hero. It is unheard of for Bollywood stars, except those that join politics, to cross swords with political parties.

“I merely repeated what the Supreme Court has said (in its judgment last month). If the BJP wants me to apologise, do they also want an apology from the Supreme Court'”

Aamir’s new film, Fanaa, to be released countrywide on Friday, will not be shown in Gujarat. Senior BJP MP V.K. Malhotra admitted his party had a hand in the blackout when he said: “Aamir should apologise for his remarks on Narmada. We are ready to put an end to this row if he does so.”

At a news conference in Mumbai, the actor said: “I have raised my voice in favour of the poor displaced farmers of Gujarat, and I have done no wrong in saying so. I am not anti-dam or anti-development. I want Gujarat’s people to get more water, but thousands displaced by the dam should also be adequately rehabilitated.”

Aamir turned activist last month when he supported an agitation by the Narmada Bachao Andolan seeking adequate rehabilitation for Sardar Sarovar Dam oustees.

The actor today urged the people of Gujarat to join him in his fight for justice for displaced farmers. Comfortable in jeans and a white kurta, he quoted from a song from Lagaan: “Sach aur sahas jiske man mein, jeet usi ki hogi (Those who believe in truth and courage will triumph).”

Targeting the BJP, whose Gujarat youth leader has admitted to “requesting” cinemas not to show his film, he said: “This is a people’s issue. People should observe which party is trying to muffle the voice of those who speak for the poor.”

He found support in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who, in reply to a question, said: “Every citizen has the freedom of expression as long as he does not indulge in unconstitutional activities.”

The Film and TV Producers’ Guild condemned “extra-constitutional” forces for disrupting screening of the film.

The BJP has officially said it has nothing to do with the Fanaa row.

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