South star Kichcha Sudeep has said he had no intention to spark a debate with his comments on Hindi as he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for calling Indian languages the soul of 'Bharatiyata'.
Last month, Sudeep was involved in a Twitter exchange with Bollywood star Ajay Devgn over his remarks that Hindi is "no more our national language" which later snowballed into a larger debate about Hindi imposition vs preserving India's linguistic diversity.
On Friday, during his virtual address to BJP office-bearers, PM Modi said the party considers all Indian languages worthy of reverence, a statement that overwhelmed Sudeep.
"I didn't mean to start any riot or any kind of debate. It just so happened without an agenda. It was an opinion I voiced. It was an honour and a privilege to see the certain lines come out of the Prime Minister's mouth," Sudeep told NDTV in an interview.
"When he himself makes a statement. Everybody who looks upon their language with regard and respect, it's an overwhelming thing to see him speak this way," he added.
The 48-year-old actor said PM Modi's statement was a "warm welcome towards all languages". "I am not just representing only Kannada, I'm talking about everybody's mother tongue has been respected today with those few statements from the Prime Minister and that is where I was coming from that day. We don't look at Narendra Modi as just a politician, we look at him as a leader as well," Sudeep said.
In his virtual address, the prime minister said it is the BJP that has linked India's cultural and linguistic diversity with national pride.
"Giving priority to local languages in the National Education Policy manifests our commitment to all regional languages. The BJP considers Indian languages the soul of Bharatiyata and the link to a better future for the country," PM Modi said.
"I want to mention this especially because attempts have been made in the recent past to create new controversies on the basis of language. We have to constantly alert the people of the country about this," he added.
In the interview, Sudeep said his remarks about Hindi, which led to a sharp reaction from Devgn on Twitter, were not directed towards any language or anybody particular.
"I come from a film fraternity and we don't feel nice only when South films are called pan-India. It's got nothing to do with Hindi per see. It is our country and we are trying to reach out to everybody as cinemas have opened to all languages and every viewer and every state wants to see a film as long as it is good," he added.
Sudeep said when "certain segments" were called pan-India, it didn't go "well with me".
"It had nothing to do with ego or any kind of emotions. It's just the fact that pan-India, whether it is coming from south or from Hindi industry, as long as you're dubbing your films in other languages, it should be called pan-India," the actor said.
Sudeep, who is popular for starring in South films like "Sparsha", "Huchcha", "Nandhi", "Veera Madakari", "Eega" and "Pailwaan", is also known for his performances in Hindi movies like "Phoonk", "Rann" and "Dabangg 3".
He is currently awaiting the release of 3D mystery thriller "Vikrant Rona". Directed by Anup Bhandari, the movie will be released in six languages -- Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and English.