Actor Mukesh Khanna is being called out on the internet for scandalous statements that could be perceived as offensive on several levels. Mukesh is best known for having played the superhero character Shaktimaan on television, but now runs a YouTube channel where he shares all kinds of uproarious opinions. He also played a pivotal role in BR Chopra’s Mahabharat.
In a video posted on his Bheesm International channel earlier this week, he said that women who desire sex and ask for it aren’t women, but sex workers. The video was titled Kya Aapko Bhi Aisi Ladkiyan Lubhati Hain?
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While practically every second of the original video is just as shocking, people on the internet have taken the most offence to one comment in particular: “Koi bhi ladki agar kisi ladke ko kahe ‘I want to have sex with you’, wo ladki, ladki nahi hai, wo dhanda kar rahi hai. Kyunki is tarah ki nirlaj baatein koi sabhya samaj ki ladki kabhi nahi karegi (If any girl tells a boy that she wants to have sex with him, she is not a girl, she is a sex worker. Because a decent girl belonging to a civilised society would never say such things).”
The overall vibe of his seven-minute video is sexist. He asked men to beware of being lured by women on the internet and in real life, and frequently blamed women for trying to run rackets and blackmailing ‘innocent men’. He also admitted to having received messages from accounts apparently belonging to ‘young women’ offering free sex, but he chose not to respond.
During his rant in the original video, Mukesh also asked women to stay within ‘limits’ and respect traditions. The actor was idolised by an entire generation of kids in the 90s, many of whom are the ones aghast at his comments now. Comedian Aditi Mittal commented on a snippet of the video posted by a Bollywood-centric Instagram account, “Shakti(ap)maan.” Another person commented, “He ruined my childhood.” A third person wrote, “Shakti and Maan, both gone for a toss.” Other comments weren’t as polite.
While Mukesh doesn’t really work as an actor anymore, he commands a significant following online — comments under his YouTube video are almost entirely in favour of what he said. The popularity of Shaktimaan can’t be ignored either. Earlier this year, a new reboot of the character was announced by Sony Pictures India. The planned trilogy of superhero films will feature a ‘major superstar’. Sony has partnered with Mukesh’s Bheeshm International on the project. On a related note, we live in a world where controversial old tweets can get Kevin Hart fired from the Oscars and James Gunn dismissed by Disney.