Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah recently voiced his apprehension regarding increasing hatred faced by Muslims in India, saying it has become “fashionable” to hate them. During a conversation with 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.
When asked if it’s a worrying sign that certain films and shows are being used as vehicles of disinformation, Shah said, “Oh, sure, 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 has very cleverly tapped into this nerve. We talk about secular this, democracy that, so why are you introducing religion into everything?”
The veteran actor 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 Hu 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 Indian 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”. Unlike many other actors, Shah is known for fearlessly speaking his mind.