MUMBAI: Actor Saif Ali Khan, who was arrested and released on bail in an assault case, tonight claimed that he had been hit and "verbally abused" first during the "ugly incident" at a five-star hotel last night.
"I was hit first and verbally abused," Saif said, talking to reporters at his home.
"I was hit first. And as shocking as it may seem, the elderly gentlemen hit me. I'm not sure what provoked him.
"I am looking forward to CCTV footage (inside the restaurant)," he said, adding that the footage would prove that he was innocent.
"I certainly got it in the eye...his (complainant Sharma's) nose does not look like broken to me," Saif said.
To a query, Saif also said that he was not drunk at the time.
The actor also complained that the media coverage of the incident was one-sided. "There is a certain slant in the press," he said.
He would have never raised hand at an elderly gentleman, the actor said, but also conceded that the situation "could have been handled differently."
"I could have reacted differently. I could have been a little more Gandhian in my approach. But I'm afraid I reacted in a way any gentleman would have reacted. But I'm not proud of what happened. It could have been handled differently. I should have set a better example. I'm sorry that I reacted this way.
"People assume that just because you are a film star, you are a spoilt brat...I feel like I have been aggressed upon (sic)," he said.
Saif also said, answering a query, that he had not run, but gone to police station in the morning "after finishing my work".
"I have full faith in the police, judiciary," the actor, visibly agitated, said.
The 41-year-old actor and his two friends were booked under sections 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intent) of IPC for assaulting a South African businessman of Indian origin named Iqbal Sharma at 'Wasabi', a Japanese restaurant at the Taj Hotel last night.
According to Sharma, when he asked Saif and his friends to talk less loudly, he was assaulted.
But in Saif's version, as he told the reporters, "at the start this gentleman said, just keep quiet. I said we are talking in a restaurant and we are allowed to talk. If you are looking for silence, public library is the place to go..
May be I shouldn't have said that. What I meant was its okay to talk in a private dining area at 12'o clock in the night.
"There was a lot of bad language used. It was abusive. It was difficult for anybody to react in a different way."
In a statement given to the police earlier, Saif had said the same thing. "I was hit and I was only defending myself," he had said in the statement.
According to Sharma, the brawl broke out a little past midnight when he -- seated with his family at a table adjacent to that occupied by Khan, his companion actress Kareena Kapoor and others -- complained to the hotel management about the noisy chatter.
According to Sharma's complaint, the actor accosted Sharma near the staircase at the entrance of the restaurant and after a heated argument, punched him on the nose, causing a fracture.