Malayalam superstar Mammooty had a harrowing experience when he was questioned by officials at the John F Kennedy International Airport on his arrival in New York, over his Muslim name in his passport.
Mammooty, 56, was 'separated for questioning' for two hours by security officials after part of his official name, Muhammadkutty Ismail, popped up on the computer screen at the immigration counter while his travel documents were being screened.
Mammooty's actual name is Muhammadkutty Ismail Paniparambil. The incident happened when the star arrived by a British Airways flight on April 29, sources said.
The star, who has acted in more than 300 films in Malayalam and Tamil, was allowed to leave the airport only after the Indian Consulate contacted authorities concerned and explained that he was a popular actor in southern India and had visited the US several times in the past, consulate sources told PTI.
"There was no formal intervention by the mission," the sources said, adding that the consulate was informed about the incident by the local Malayalee Association members, who had gone to receive the actor.
The actor was taken to a separate room and was questioned on his purpose of visit to the US and other details, sources said.
According to sources close to the actor, JFK airport security officials said they took him separately as they "had instructions to check the details of all those passengers bearing the name -- Muhammad Ismail."