This is not the first time Shah has criticised the government. Last year, he said the government is promoting a film like The Kashmir Files instead of ensuring security and rehabilitation for the Hindus in Kashmir.
NEW DELHI — Thespian Naseeruddin Shah has voiced his alarm over rising hatred for Muslims in India saying it has become “fashionable” to hate Muslims.
Talking to The Indian Express, Shah discussed the spread of unabashed Islamophobia, the perilous consequences it poses for a diverse country such as India and how this propaganda is being used to get votes in elections.
Born in 1950, the actor has won numerous awards in his career, including three National Film Awards, three Filmfare Awards and the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. He has also been honoured with the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan awards for his contributions to Indian cinema.
Known for articulating his views very candidly, Shah said it was a worrying sign that certain films and shows are being used as vehicles of disinformation. “Oh, These are worrying times absolutely. The kind of stuff that’s pure, undisguised propaganda is being lapped up and it’s a reflection of the zeitgeist of the times. Muslim hating is fashionable these days, even among educated people. It’s what the ruling party (the BJP) has very cleverly tapped into this nerve. We talk about secular this, democracy that, so why are you introducing religion into everything?”
He highlighted that the ruling party, the BJP, has skilfully tapped into this sentiment, merging religion with political motives. “I mean how spineless is the election commission of ours? Who doesn’t even dare utter a word? If there had been a Muslim leader who had said, ‘Allah-o- Akbar bol ke button dabao’, sh*t would have hit the fan.
“But here our prime minister goes ahead and says things like this and yet he loses. So, I have hope that this will wear off. But it’s definitely, at the moment, at its peak. It’s been a very clever card played by this government, and it has worked. Let’s see how long it continues to work,” he added.
This is not the first time Shah has criticised the government. Last year, he said the government is promoting a film like The Kashmir Files instead of ensuring security and rehabilitation for the Hindus in Kashmir. In another interview, he spoke about Bollywood being encouraged by the government to make more pro-establishment films, calling it a “jingoistic agenda”.
Amidst the ongoing debate about ‘The Kerala Story’ ban and its exaggeration of the number of women who reportedly joined ISIS from Kerala, Shah, well-known for fearlessly speaking his mind, flagged concern about the rising Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric in the country.
The industry veteran went on to say that some politicians have hijacked religious terms which they use to manipulate people to get votes during elections.
The actor was last seen in the web series Taj: Divided by Blood, a fictional story based on the 16th century kings. The story follows Akbar and the war of succession between his 3 sons: Salim, Murad, and Daniyal.
Shah said the only way to fight bigotry, propaganda and films designed to spread disinformation is through artists speaking up and using their voices in making a difference. “The only problem? There aren’t many who are willing to do so”, he said.