MUMBAI: Facing flak for playing Nathuram Godse in an upcoming film, NCP MP Dr Amol Kolhe on Friday said he never endorsed the views and actions of Mahatma Gandhi's assassin.
While NCP leader and Maharashtra minister Jitendra Awhad has targeted Kolhe over the issue, opposition BJP sought to know the actor-turned-MP's "exact stand on Godse".
Kolhe, the MP from Shirur in western Maharashtra who was earlier with the Shiv Sena, issued a video message on Friday.
"It seems many people have got hurt because of my role as Godse in the Hindi movie "Why I Killed Gandhi". I have never ever endorsed the act of Godse or his views against Mahatma Gandhi," he said.
Explaining the circumstances behind accepting the role, he said that after playing Chhatrapati Shivaji, he wanted to play Chhatrapati Sambhaji (king Shivaji's son) on TV or in a film.
He received an offer for a serial on Sambhaji, but the shooting got stalled after some days, said Kolhe, who is an MBBS graduate.
Around this time, in 2017, he got the offer to play Godse in the film directed by Ashok Tyagi, he said.
Actors like late Nilu Phule or Pran played negative roles in films but in real life they were progressive individuals, Kolhe said.
"I repeat that I do not endorse the ideology or views of Godse," he said, adding he did not even promote the film.
"In 2017, as an actor it was my need to get a role in films. It should be understood and seen in that context," the actor-turned-MP said.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole, meanwhile, said his party condemns "the endorsement and promotion of those who killed Gandhi."
State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said Kolhe should clarify his "exact stand on Godse and his views", because his leader (NCP chief) Sharad Pawar did not approve of Godse's views.
"BJP is totally against Godse and his actions," Patil added.
Earlier, NCP leader and state housing minister Jitendra Awhad had said that even if Kolhe had played Godse in his capacity as actor, "it is indeed an endorsement of Godse's views."
But Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil defended Kolhe.
"Dr Kolhe completed the shooting for the film in 2017. He joined NCP a few months before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. After that film, Dr Kolhe has also played Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in a Marathi serial. People have accepted him as an actor as well as a parliamentarian," Patil said.
"His performance in the Lok Sabha is also good. You can watch his speeches on YouTube. He has also supported the views of great social reformers like Shahu Maharaj, Jyotirao Phule and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. We do condemn the film (on Godse)," he added.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday came out in support of Kolhe.
"Dr Amol Kolhe's decision to act in that movie should be seen as an artist's choice. If he played that role, it does not mean he subscribes to Godse's ideology or views," Pawar told reporters.
"If someone plays the role of Aurangzeb in a film, it should not be seen as the actor becoming a supporter of the Mughals. Ravan abducted Sita (in the Ramayana), does it imply that the actor playing Ravan actually kidnapped her?" he added.
On party leader Awhad opposing the film, Pawar said, "He must have expressed his personal opinion. I don't need to respond to it."
Pawar also referred to Richard Attenborough's acclaimed biopic "Gandhi".
"Because of Attenborough's film, the Mahatma's work could reach across continents. The artist who played the role of Godse was an artist and his work should be seen as such," the NCP chief said.