Chennai: Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan, who has found himself in a row over his "India's first extremist was a Hindu" remarks, Sunday called Mahatma Gandhi a 'superstar'.
Pointing out that he has been repeatedly reading about Gandhi and his life, Haasan recalled an anecdote where the latter once lost his slipper while travelling in a train.
"...he (Gandhi) is a superstar. While waving at the crowds standing in a train, he once lost his slipper. And he threw away the other one and reasoned that a pair of footwear will be useful for someone," he said at an event of director R Pathiban's movie titled 'Seruppu', meaning chappal. Talking more on Gandhi's footwear, Haasan said following research on the Indian freedom movement's doyen for his film "Hey Ram", he came to know that his spectacles and a slipper "went missing during the melee," apparently referring to his assassination.
"So I created a scene where Saketram (the lead played by himself) takes it (slipper) and keeps it till his death," he said.
Caught in a row for saying that Nathuram Godse, who shot dead Gandhi, was a Hindu and that he was free India's first extremist, Haasan said he cannot "accept a villain as a hero."
On the incident where footwear was hurled during his campaigning at Thirupparankundram near Madurai recently, he said "it is an insult for the one who threw the chappal."
Indicating that Gandhi was his "hero", Haasan said "I cannot change my hero."
"I cannot change my hero, can't accept the villain as hero," he said, without mentioning who he was referring to.
However, the apparent reference seemed to be Godse. Earlier, stoking a controversy, Haasan had said "free India's first extremist was a Hindu," referring to Godse.
"I am not saying this because this is a Muslim dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Free India's first extremist was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it (extremism) starts," he had said in bypoll bound Aravakurichi.
The remarks had resulted in a major row, with the BJP and AIADMK tearing into Haasan, even as cases were filed against him in Tamil Nadu and Delhi.However, the Congress' state unit and rationalist outfit Dravidar Kazhagam backed him.