In an age where people are increasingly held accountable for their public statements, many have found clever ways to sidestep controversy, hide behind big words, and make the right strategic moves. But several others, like Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah, seemingly never got the memo.
Two days ago, in a promotional interview with Tried&Refused Productions for his latest TV series Taj, he bluntly claimed, “Sindhi is, of course, no longer spoken in Pakistan”. Twitter did not take kindly to his assumption, prompting a heap of backlash in viral retweets of the footage.
Ironically, Shah’s statement was made as a side note while listing various regional languages and discussing widespread ignorance towards Urdu. Many users were outraged at his ignorance towards Sindhi, including the original user who shared the snippet online.
Several users also urged the actor to “come to Sindh”, calling attention to how many large, sweeping stereotypes we hear about Sindh coming from people who have never visited.
Other users, such as independent Sindhi journalist Veengas, made it a point to remind us of the facts. She highlighted how Shah and several others have harmfully overlooked the presence of Sindhi in local media and literature, not unlike the way we often treat regional languages ourselves.
Twitter is, “of course”, not Twitter without its mocking retweets. Many users took this opportunity to ridicule Shah for falling short in his attempts at “intellectual” conversation, with Indian author Rahul Pandita even suggesting that he should “withdraw from public life”.
One user hilariously tweeted “from the burial mounds” of Mohenjo Daro, adding that the only languages we speak now are “Chinese and Urd-lish”.
Though we’re not entirely sure where Shah is reporting from, it’s safe to say that Sindhi is alive and kicking. Still, both his viral comment and the widespread critical response that followed serve as a lesson on the degree of misinformation spread around regional languages and cultures. Whether learned from famous celebrities or at dinner table discussions, we must begin to revisit what we know about our local cultures — and where that knowledge came from. You might find wilder assumptions than Shah’s closer to home!