Mukesh Khanna: I took the name of Sonakshi Sinha as an example, I did not intend to demean her

Main actor Mukesh Khanna , better known as 'Shaktimaan' on Indian television, has been in the news lately. He dug in Sonakshi Sinha , saying that the replay of Ramanand Sagar's 'Ramayan' on television would help young people like her, who lacked knowledge about the epic. The comment was sparked by an episode of 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' last year, where Sonakshi did not know the answer to a question about Ramayan . Mukesh, who had played Bhishma Pitamah in BR Chopra Iconic TV show from the 80s Mahabharat 'also lashed out Ekta Kapoor for doing a modernized version of the epic on television, in which Draupadi was shown with a tattoo on his shoulder. Mukesh's comments have drawn criticism from many, including Sonakshi's father-actor. Shatrughan Sinha and his former co-actors from 'Mahabharat', Nitish Bharadwaj (who played Krishna) and Puneet Issar (who played Duryodhan). BT asked him about his controversial statements and this is what he had to say. Keep reading ...

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Shatrughan Sinha recently reacted to your comment on Sonakshi, albeit without taking your name. He said that ‘someone’ has a problem with his daughter not answering a question on 'Ramayan'. He also questioned how that ‘someone’ - referring to you - can be an expert on the epic and also the of guardian of Hindu religion ’...

People have blown my comment out of proportion and presented it wrongly to Shatruji. I have known him for long and have immense respect for him. I took Sonakshi’s name as a mere example. It does not mean I was trying to demean her or question her knowledge. My intention was not to target her. However, I am shocked to see how the current generation is not aware of many things. Recently, I was watching a video in which an IT student didn't know whose maternal uncle Kans was. Someone even answered ‘Duryodhan’ to that question. I am not claiming that I am the guardian of Ramayan and Hindu literature, but as a citizen of India, I do feel that it is our duty to introduce our literature and history to today’s generation because they are more interested in TikTok and Harry Potter. Once again, if Shatruji feels that taking Sonakshi’s name was a mistake, then yes, it is. But, it was not intentional.

Nitish Bharadwaj also criticized his comments, saying that older people seem worthy of respect if they walk the path of empathy towards the younger generation. Your take?

Should I not say anything just because today’s generation will stop respecting me? I have never minced words and have always been honest about my thoughts, but Nitish Bharadwaj is diplomatic. He has also said that the current generation will never know about Ramayan and Mahabharat because our school textbooks don’t have any chapters on the epics. Well, there are no chapters on Harry Potter either, but the young generation knows about it. When we were growing up, our textbooks didn't have chapters on the epics, but our parents introduced us to them.

Puneet Issar, too, has condemned your comments and feels that as you age, you should show some grace ...

Puneet is just trying to promote his play, which glorifies Duryodhan. He feels that it is his interpretation of Mahabharat and Duryodhan’s character. He also feels that Ekta Kapoor’s 'Mahabharat' was her interpretation of the epic. Well, Ekta’s 'Mahabharat' looked like Greeks were playing Hindustanis. I would like to tell all pseudo intellectuals that I do have the right to say that these versions are not based on the original, and they should watch the reruns of Ramanand Sagar’s 'Ramayan' and BR Chopra ’s 'Mahabharat'.

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