Saif Ali Khan spoke up about love jihad, his daughter Sara’s entry into Bollywood and the Indian government’s move towards “ban politics” in an interview with NDTV on Thursday.
Defending his marriage to Kareena Kapoor Khan, the actor said that they had got married under the Special Marriage Act. Speaking on the subject of love jihad, the alleged practice of Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women in order to convert them to Islam, Saif stated, “No one converts and even if they did, why should it be a problem really? God knows who somewhere gets offended and starts a chain reaction,” he said.
In January 2015, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) women’s wing, Durga Vahini used a morphed picture of Saif Ali Khan’s wife, actress Kareena Kapoor Khan, showing half her face covered with a burqa. The caption underneath read “conversion of nationality through religious conversion”. The picture gave rise to speculation on whether Kareena Kapoor Khan, a Hindu, had converted to Islam to marry Saif, a Muslim.
The actress had chosen to remain silent on the subject. However, Saif had vocally criticized the campaign, labelling it unfair targeting. Saif Ali Khan’s mother, actress Sharmila Tagore, a former Hindu, had converted to Islam on her marriage to Saif’s Muslim father, former Indian cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. Saif himself had been earlier married to actress Amrita Singh, a Sikh who had converted to Islam. The marriage ended in 2004. Kareena Kapoor Khan chose not to change her religion.
Saif and Kareena on their wedding day
A similar controversy had arisen in January 2015, when the Hindu Mahasabha had challenged actors Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Saif Ali Khan to convert to Hinduism if they “really love their wives”. All three actors are married to Hindu women, none of whom has converted to Islam.
Love jihad was not the only topic the actor had to discuss in his NDTV interview. Referring to the current ‘ban politics’ in India, the actor said the government has been great for the Indian economy but added, “They have a task ahead in dealing with certain sections, who seem to be taking the role of moral guardians. That’s what I wait to see.”
Talking about his daughter Sara’s plans to enter the industry, Saif stated, “Yes, she wants to join films, but currently she is at Columbia and doing very well and I want her to focus on her studies.”
Sara Ali Khan poses for a magazine cover