New Delhi: Superstar Shah Rukh Khan has confirmed to CNN-IBN that he was detained at the Newark-New Jersey airport on Friday night when he was in transit to Chicago.
Shah Rukh Khan spoke exclusively with CNN-IBN and admitted he was shocked at the behaviour of the immigration officials.
The actor said he was told he had a "common name" and hence the questioning was required.
“It was in Newark where I was detained for questioning. It was because they said my name was common to some name that popped up on the computer. They were asking me silly questions like if I knew someone in the US who could vouch for me, if I could give them numbers of people they could get in touch with,” he said.
“I had all the documents; they were asking me where I was going to be staying. I gave the name of FOX people with whom I had finalised a deal a few days ago as contacts. I kept on giving numbers. They wanted to know why I came here,” he said.
Shah Rukh said the officers wanted to check his baggage but since it had not arrived, he was taken to a room where other people were also waiting for a second check on their visa.
He said he sent messages to his home, his secretary and also to Congress MP Rajiv Shukla, who informed the Indian embassy, whose officials came to his rescue.
“I was taken to a room where many people were awaiting a secondary check on visa, most were Asians. In fact many officers were reluctantly vouching for me, some people were asking for autographs and a Pakistani fan even said he knew who I was. But the officers said it was procedure and kept taking numbers from me. They told me you can’t use the phone in this area. I sent a message home and to my secretary and Rajiv Shukla. It took almost two hours. However, they did not take my fingerprints,” he said.
Asked if he felt angry, the actor said he felt bad “for the people in the room”.
“I did feel bad for a lot of people in that room, I know because I had an escort and someone would recognise me, I will get out. Others may face more trouble,” he said.
He also refered to ex President APJ Abdul Kalam's frisking episode.
“I have extra security because of my name. I can handle this but when you have someone as respectable as an ex-president getting frisked, I am nobody,” he said.
Shah Rukh also admitted that while he didn’t mind going to the US for work, it was always an inconvenient journey for him. "I am glad my family was not there, this has happened to me earlier. I am a shy, scared traveler and I really have to hold back my sense of humour. It certainly does well for people whose names are known, for others its trouble. My guard was also denied a visa apparently because he too had a common name”.
Through the chat with CNN-IBN, Shah Rukh never lost his sense of humour and kept coming up with his characteristic quirky ones. "I think my face scares people, I will try and change the way I look," he said. He also said his son Aryan asked if he had "been caught". " I told him, not yet son".
THE NAME IS KHAN
Incidentally, Shah Rukh Khan’s upcoming releases include Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan which touches on the issue of racial profiling and discrimination faced by a certain minority community in a post-9/11 world.
The Fox-STAR Studios will finance and distribute the film, reportedly spending Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion/$20 million) in the process.