Kuala Lumpur, Oct. 12 (PTI): Shah Rukh Khan has been conferred a Malyasian state honour equivalent to a British knighthood but the decision has been denounced by many who believe local artistes should get priority.
Malacca has conferred the governor’s award carrying the title “Datuk” on the 42-year-old star for promoting the southern state of Malaysia through his movies.
Shah Rukh was among the many who got the honour on the 70th birthday of Mohd Khalil Yaakob, Malacca’s head of state.
But Opposition politicians as well as many in the public have raised questions over how much Shah Rukh promoted Malacca, The Star daily said.
According to the paper, Opposition leader and DAP party adviser Lim Kit Siang said he wasn’t against deserving people being awarded the title but local artistes had to be considered first.
“If Shah Rukh Khan deserves the award, then so should Hollywood stars Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones who shot a movie against the backdrop of the Twin Towers (the Petronas skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur) in 1999,” Siang said.
Many in the public also seemed unhappy. “I thought the award is given to those who have contributed towards Malacca’s development. I wonder whether Shah Rukh Khan even knows where Malacca is,” businesswoman Fatimah Tahir was quoted as saying by the paper.
Malacca chief minister Mohammad Ali Rustam defended the move, saying the Bollywood star had helped promote the state through his movies and song sequences. “It would have cost (the state) millions to promote Malacca through advertisements but instead Shah Rukh has brought it to the attention of the world through his movies,” The Straits Times quoted Ali as saying.
He cited six movies of Shah Rukh that featured songs and scenes shot at sites in Malacca. One of his movies, One 2 Ka 4, had been shot at a popular resort in the state in 2001.
Malaysia, home to millions of Indians, has become a popular destination for Hindi film producers who flock to the country because of its picturesque locales.
Don, the Farhan Akhtar-directed 2006 thriller starring Shah Rukh, had also been extensively filmed in Malaysia. Bollywood actors are extremely popular in the country.