Bollywood star Salman Khan has been given a week to apologise after he told reporters his filming schedule was so gruelling he felt like a “raped woman”.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) said he would be issued with a summons if he did not say sorry.
Khan tried to retract his remark but it was widely reported.
Outraged Twitter users have criticised him, and the hashtag #InsensitiveSalman has been trending. Supporters launched a counter campaign #SalmanMisquoted.
Official figures show the incidence of sexual violence is increasing in India, where the brutal gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi in 2012 led to protests and new anti-rape laws.
The star’s father, Salim Khan, asked people to forgive his son for his remarks.
“Undoubtedly what Salman said is wrong,” the veteran actor and screenwriter tweeted. But he added: “The intention was not wrong. Nevertheless I apologise on behalf of his family his fans & his friends.”
Khan, one of India’s biggest stars, made his comments in an interview to promote his next film Sultan, in which he plays a wrestler.
The actor’s full quote, according to audio recordings released by the media, was: “When I used to walk out of that ring, it used to be actually like a raped woman walking out.”
As journalists start laughing, he says, “I don’t think I should have” and tries to explain that he found it hard to walk.
In the same interview, Khan said he was able to quit every “vice” – like cigarettes, alcohol and coffee – except women.
A spokesman for the actor said he had been “joking”.
But many Twitter users pointed out that regardless of his hasty retraction, he should never have made the comparison in the first place.
But legions of the fan’s supporters banded together to trend the competing hashtag #SalmanMisquoted which soon overtook the original trend.
Khan is not new to controversy. Last year he was acquitted after being charged with running over a homeless man in a driving accident.
He is still facing charges that he illegally hunted endangered blackbuck deer in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan.