Bollywood Star Shah Rukh Khan Praises Women at Davos

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Shah Rukh Khan

The actor was honored with Davos' Crystal Award for creating the Meer Foundation to empower victims of burns and acid attacks.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan praised women in his personal and professional life as he spoke Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about his work in championing children's and women’s right in India. The 52-year-old actor, one of the biggest movie stars in the world, has been working in Bollywood for more than 30 years.

He was honored with Davos’ Crystal Award on Monday night for creating the Meer Foundation to empower victims of burns and of acid attacks. In India, 80 percent of acid attack victims are women.

“It’s the first time in my whole career where I’ve gotten an award for someone else’s work, someone else’s bravery,” Khan said of the honor.

The actor thanked the women in his life for raising him. “How do I say this without sounding wrong? I don’t spend time in the company of men.”

“I am naturally inclined towards women,” he said. “My mother was very strong. I am a movie star, which is a difficult business for any lady to handle. My wife does that with amazing aplomb and platitude. She is extremely strong.”

Khan also acknowledged the female movie stars he has worked with throughout his career. “[Women] work harder than I do. They come in four to five hours before I even land on the set. They are somehow considered secondary in the scheme of things of this film world. It’s a man’s world,” he said.

“And at the end I take all the credit and become the biggest superstar in the world. The beauty of it is that knowing how unfair it is, they have not reduced themselves and gone into victimhood,” he said.

He added of women, “They have the courage, the bravery, the strength to realize, ‘You know what, this is how it is going right now. I do work harder than Shah Rukh. I am better than Shah Rukh. And it’s all right if he’s sitting now in Davos giving the speech.' They know they are the real strength.”

“I tell my two sons that I want to be a woman when I grow up,” he joked.

Khan said the women he has helped through Meer Foundation have inspired how he sees his life today. “None of them have succumbed to victimhood,” he said, despite the tragedies they've suffered.

“Here I am worrying about a film that has not collected money. I’ve found so many faults with my life in the last 10 years. I don’t have a private plane. The whole world is against me and I’ve become such a victim. And I started working with these women and I realize that nothing is wrong with me," he said.

On working toward change, Khan believes the key is communication and recognizes that even social media discussion can be effective.

“Within this space where everybody is trolling and being so aggressive, the underlying thing is even to troll, you’re connecting with people. Let’s connect because, that’s the only way to overcome,” he said.

Khan is already thinking about how we’ll communicate in the future. “We will have to connect with aliens very soon and find out how small and minuscule we are,” he said, with a smile. “Why is it that in every movie the aliens are the aggressors? Maybe they’re just waiting for Earth to calm down and say, 'We'll come and make peace.'”

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