Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, who was recently under fire from Shiv Sena on his controversial comments about Pakistan, has stirred up a debate again.
Reacting to a question by the electronic media on why a film like the Aamir Khan-starrer PK seeks to criticise Hindu customs but does not talk about Islamic ones in as much detail, the 65-year-old has said that Bollywood doesn’t have the guts to criticise Islamic practices. “Why did he (Rajkumar Hirani; director of PK) not equally criticise Islamic customs in the movie? In Pakistan, they had the guts to produce a movie like Khuda Ke Liye. But no one has dared to make a film like that in India so far. Do you know why?” he was quoted as saying. While Hirani or Aamir could not be reached, a spokesperson said that they would not want to react to Shah’s comments.
However, Shah has found support from within the industry. “To a certain extent he is right. And he (Naseeruddin Shah) speaks only from what he observes. Yes, we try to play safe, and are afraid of showing limitations of any religion. However, having said that, I think it is a very generic statement. I wish he would have seen my film Shahid,” says filmmaker Hansal Mehta, who directed the National-Award winning film. Another filmmaker, Pritish Nandy, agrees with Shah and adds that the film industry is afraid to show any religious minority group in a negative light. “Filmmakers in India try not to offend religious minorities. Anyone who knows Naseeruddin knows that he only says things after he observes what’s going on in society,” says Nandy.
However, trade analyst Atul Mohan believes that it’s better that the film industry remains apolitical and non-religious. “Bollywood has always been away from politics and religion. It has to be that way in future as well. And the new generation of filmmakers are sensitive and intelligent enough to know how to stay away from these controversial topics,” he says.