This post has been corrected.
Bollywood star Salman Khan just can’t get it right, be it the connection—or lack of—between virginity and marriage or just people’s names.
It gets more jarring when the names are of those in the Indian Olympics contingent. And what could be worse, Khan is one of the goodwill ambassadors of this year’s event now unfolding in Rio de Janeiro.
On Aug 07, Khan was caught fumbling, referring to a participant as “Deepika” first and then “Dipti” after he was prompted by a reporter in the audience.
As if that wasn’t enough, Khan displayed even more of his ignorance by saying, “I thought Deepika was going to win a gold but then she came (in) eighth.”
Now, it is unclear whom he was referring to—Dipa Karmakar, who went on to make history as the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the women’s vault finals, or Deepika Kumari, one of India’s most accomplished archers and former world no.1.
Nevertheless, it was apparent that Khan had no clue what he was talking about. Besides, the 50-year-old actor’s remarks sounded condescending, completely disregarding the respect due to two of India’s most talented sportswomen.
Incidentally, Karmakar’s feat was performed in the qualifying rounds; the finals are scheduled for Aug. 14. She had qualified after performing one of the riskiest moves in gymnastics, the Produnova—successfully executed till now by only five people in the world, including herself. Moreover, her journey to the Rio Olympics involved long years of struggle, with limited access to equipment and training.
In any case, Khan, who was talking at a trailer screening in Mumbai, had not surprised many.
After all, this was only the latest in a series of tone-deaf and strange statements he made over the course of a single press conference, which included the claim that he remains a virgin because he isn’t married yet.
Khan’s appointment as a goodwill ambassador in April was criticized, with many questioning the appropriateness of the choice given the long list of controversies and court cases associated with him.
Ironically, Khan defended his selection claiming that the publicity he would bring would benefit India’s lesser-known athletes, improving their access to equipment and nutrition. “I have seen a lot of people struggling to promote sports like wrestling. But we are doing that (promoting the sport) now,” Khan said in an interview.
Clearly, he wasn’t referring to either Dipa Karmakar or Deepika Kumari.
Correction: In the earlier version of this story, the writer had erroneously mentioned that Khan was referring to gymnast Dipa Karmakar. However, it is still unclear which athlete Khan meant to talk about, and the piece has been modified to reflect this. We have also contacted the actor and will update the story when he responds.