Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan came down heavily on the controversy triggered by Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan on the issue of casting couch in the industry.

Responding to a question asked on the sidelines of a mock gram panchayat held on Tuesday at his Alwarpet residence, Haasan criticised Khan’s remark in strong words.

“It is the right of a woman to refuse to sit, lie down or kick away the couch. And no woman shall talk in favour of it and reduce the rights of my sister and my daughters who are also in the industry,” said the 63-year-old chief of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM).

He, however, added that the mock gram panchayat was not the appropriate platform to answer the question.

“This is not a place to discuss a casting couch. This is a place where we are casting, forging a new Tamil Nadu,” he said adding that he is “duty-bound to answer the tacky question” because he is from the industry.

When asked to comment on Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury’s remark that casting couch exists in Parliament, Haasan said that it is “yet another corruption in politics; we need to do away with it”.

“We use the couch to sleep on, to sleep away from our worries with or without anyone. That’s your will,” he said.

“These kinds of corrupt activities will continue to go on, thanks to politicians and bad people who abound,” he added while urging the reporters to report on the gram panchayat.

“Please get away from the couch and help us forge a new Tamil Nadu. You have a responsibility, sirs,” requested Haasan.

Khan, a three-time National award-winner for choreography, triggered a row with her statement in which she said that casting couch had been there for ages, and that it provided people livelihood in exchange for it.

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Tum film industry ke peeche kyun pade ho? Woh kam se kam roti toh deti hai. Rape karke chhod toh nahi deti. (Why are you targeting the film industry? At least, it gives people livelihood. It doesn’t abandon after rape).”

Yeh ladki ke upar hai ki tum kya karna chahti ho. Tum uske haath mein nahi aana chahti ho toh nahi aaogi. Tumhare paas art hai toh tum kyun bechoge apne aap ko? Film industry ko kuch mat kehna, woh humaara mai-baap hai. (It depends on the woman what you want to do. Do you want to give in or not. If you have art, why would you sell yourself? Don’t say anything about the film industry, it’s our godparent),” she added.