“I Am Worried About The Kids” Naseeruddin Shah Calls Out “Propaganda” Of The Film Industry.
Speaking to NDTV, Actor Naseeruddin Shah said his statement on a “section of Indian Muslims” celebrating the Taliban’s return was misunderstood. Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah said today that while he felt that the film industry had been insulated from religious discrimination and Islamophobia, filmmakers were being encouraged by the government to make “pro-establishment” films.
In comments that went viral earlier this month, he had said: “Even as the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan is a cause for concern for the whole world, celebrations of the barbarians by some sections of Indian Muslims are no less dangerous.” He had also differentiated between what he called “Hindustani Islam” and what is practiced in other parts of the world.
The 71-year-old actor conceded today that “celebration” may not have been the right word to use. “I was referring to those who openly made a statement in favor of the Taliban. The history of the Taliban should make us pretty anxious,” said Naseeruddin Shah.
“What saddened me was that there are sections of the Muslim community agreement. I also received pats on the back from the rightwing. I don’t need any such congratulations or labels.”
Asked whether he had felt any discrimination in the film industry, he said: “I don’t know if the Muslim community is facing any discrimination now in the film industry. I think our contribution is far too important. In this industry, there is only one god, and that is Mammon. The amount of revenue you can generate makes for the amount of respect that you receive in this industry. The three Khans are still at the very top, they are unchallenged and still delivering. I have never felt any discrimination. I was advised early in my career to change my name. I kept it and I don’t know that it would have made any difference.”
But the discrimination did exist outside, he said. The actor said completely harmless statements by Muslim leaders, union members, and students were being penalized yet open statements about perpetrating violence on the Muslim community are not being castigated or commented upon, let alone taken to task.
On the backlash over his statements, the actor joked that he had been offered a fully refundable ticket to Pakistan — “Bombay to Colombo, Colombo to Karachi”. Though there is no outright bigotry, the film industry is seeing some changes, the actor said.
“They are being encouraged by the government to make pro-government films, to make films lauding the efforts of the government. They, being financed, also promised a clean chit if they make movies which are propaganda, to put it bluntly,” he said.
“I am not worried about myself, I am worried about the kids,” he said. “The establishment wants us to feel afraid. They want us to give in to the feeling of fear. I have never been threatened with physical violence. My sympathies lie with those exposed to lynchings, cow slaughter accusations, often without proof. It is even more worrisome that those who inflict the harm are often congratulated.”