Kannada actor Kichcha Sudeep, whose rejoinder last month to his Bollywood peer Ajay Devgn in an online exchange renewed the debate over a push for Hindi supremacy, welcomed remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the subject on Friday.
"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," he told NDTV in an interview.
"Everybody who looks upon their language with regard and respect, it's an overwhelming thing to see him speak this way," Kichcha Sudeep said.
"It is 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," he added.
Kichcha Sudeep's exchange last month with Ajay Devgn - who had claimed "Hindi was, is, and will always be our mother tongue and national language" much to the chagrin of proponents of India's linguistic diversity - had set off a fresh round of debate over the primacy of languages in the country.
"I was not trying to take on anyone. I have the right to say what my opinions are when it comes to certain topics," he said on Friday, clarifying the remarks, and rejecting suggestions that the pro-Hindi came because of insecurity in the Hindi film industry.
Weighing in on the controversy, PM Modi had earlier in the day said that the BJP sees a reflection of Indian culture in every Indian language and considers every Indian language worthy of reverence.
"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," he said.
"I want to mention this especially because attempts have been made in the recent past to create new controversies based on language. We have to constantly alert the people of the country about this," the Prime Minister said.