New Delhi: Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan returned to the silver screen Wednesday for the first time in four years with a big-budget action movie that has sparked ire from Hindu right-wingers.
“Pathaan”, which hit cinemas on Wednesday, also features Bollywood heartthrob Deepika Padukone and action hero John Abraham — as well as songs and special effects galore.
Khan, 57, is among India´s biggest stars boasting a fan following of millions at home and abroad.
Also popularly known as “King Khan” and “Badshah”, he has been ruling Bollywood for more than 30 years.
But he is making a comeback to the big screen after a string of personal and professional setbacks.
His last mega release “Zero” in 2018 was a flop at the box office and his son was arrested last year in a drugs-related case which was later dropped.
The countdown to “Pathaan” has been mired in controversy with hardline Hindu groups protesting over one of its songs in which Padukone is seen in a saffron-coloured bikini.
There were calls to ban the film unless the song was removed.
The hashtag #BoycottPathaan also trended on Twitter, in line with recent repeated social media campaigns against certain films by Hindu right-wingers.
Fellow megastar Aamir Khan´s “Laal Singh Chaddha” and Ranbir Kapoor´s “Brahmastra” also faced boycott calls recently.
On Wednesday, activists from a hardline Hindu group protested with “Boycott Pathaan” banners in Bengaluru, local media reported.
Shouting slogans, they also burnt the posters of the movie.
Similar protests were held in the eastern state of Bihar on Tuesday and in Assam last Friday.