In a rerun from a few previous times, actor Shah Rukh Khan was detained at an airport in the United States for a few hours, and later released with apologies, even as Twitter seemed to have a field day with the incident. This is not the first time the 50-year-old actor has had a run-in with airport authorities in the United States. He has had such a harrowing experience at least twice before — in 2009 and 2012.
Khan was initially detained — the authorities said he was never formally held — at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey by the U.S. immigration officials in August 2009 after his name popped up in a list of forbidden flyers. Ironically, he was in the United States to promote his film "My Name is Khan," in which he plays a Muslim man with Asperger's Syndrome who is mistaken to be a terrorist because his behaviour would strike the authorities as odd.
Even more ironically, his character was seen in the film as telling a lookalike of U.S. President Barack Obama: "My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist!" As with his detention on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, SRK had downplayed the detention back then as well, saying: "I think it's a procedure that needs to be followed, but an unfortunate procedure."
Later, in 2012, the actor had arrived at the New York airport with Nita Ambani, the chairperson and founder of Reliance Foundation and wife of billionaire and Reliance Industries owner Mukesh Ambani, in a private aircraft. He was scheduled to address students at the Yale University later. All but SRK were immediately cleared by local immigration authorities, while the actor was detained for a couple of hours before he was allowed to leave.
He would later tell the students in his address: "Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kicked the star out of stardom."
He had resorted to some humour to lighten the situation, saying: "They always ask me how tall I am and I always lie and say 5 feet 10 inches. The next time I am going to get more adventurous. [If they ask me] What colour are you, I am going to say white."