SRK to fly to Malaysia for 'Datuk' honour

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 24 (IANS) Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan will fly down to Malacca to receive the traditional Malaysian title of 'Datuk', akin to the British knighthood, but the actor will be paying his own airfare.

"His fans can also come and see him there if they want to," Chief Minister Mohammed Ali Rustam said, confirming that Shah Rukh would attend the ceremony.

The star would be paying his own fare, while the Malaccans will offer him accommodation. Beyond that "not a Sen will be spent" (the lowest Malaysian monetary denomination) by the exchequer, Rustam was quoted as saying in The Star Friday.

"He is paying for his ticket but of course as our guest we will provide him with accommodation. It's only polite that we do that," he said at his Hari Raya open house at Rumah Melaka in Jalan Bellamy Thursday.

Rustam said the actor, who is immensely popular in Malaysia, will spend a night in Malacca after the function next month. But he added that Shah Rukh would be encouraged to stay for two or three days in the state, with the hope that he would visit some of the famed sites, including the Taming Sari Tower and Eye on Malaysia ferris wheel.

Shah Rukh being conferred the title of 'Datuk' had stirred up much controversy with many questioning whether he really deserves it.

"Despite the criticisms, I still believe Shah Rukh deserves the title," Rustam told reporters.

Critics have asked what Shah Rukh has done for Malaysia to deserve a Datukship. They also took up cudgels on behalf of local artistes.

But the Malaccan authorities say the Bollywood star being awarded would make the country famous and attract tourists.

Shah Rukh had shot the film "One 2 Ka 4" and a song sequence from his blockbuster "Don" in Malacca.

Rustam said the actor's agent had informed the state government that Shah Rukh was keen to film more movies in Malacca.

"He will do more films here and promote Malacca as the new hub for Bollywood films.

"I believe the scenic views here have much to offer the Bollywood film industry and the best thing is that we don't have to pay a single sen for it as others are popularising Malacca for us without any cost."

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