Anupam Kher on Wednesday stood in agreement with fellow actor Rishi Kapoor against “everything” being named after the Gandhi family. “Contribution of other people who have done a lot, such as JRD Tata and Lata Mangeshkar, cannot be ignored. Even some Congress leaders such as (former prime ministers) PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh have not been mentioned,” he said.
Along with co-actors Neena Gupta and Rakesh Bedi, Kher was in Chandigarh — from where his wife and actor Kirron Kher is the BJP Lok Sabha MP — for staging a play called ‘Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha’, or ‘I did not mean that’. “Since Independence, most things have been named after the Gandhis... I think he (Rishi) has a valid point but people will start attributing motives,” Kher said.
‘Scepticism essence of India now’
On social media, he said, “It gives reach to a lot of people, especially to youngsters. I keep getting trolled and abused, but I continue to be there. I have only blocked two persons in my seven years of Twitter life, only because they abused my parents. I am too smart to be bogged down by Twitter abuse.”
On mainstream media, he commented, “News is based on TRP these days; positive news is no news. To a certain extent, it is orchestrated too. I am just eight years younger to Independent India; I have gone through Emergency. Scepticism is the essence of our country now.”
‘No harm in yoga and Om chant for everyone’
He opined that it was “comical” how “anything coming from the government and even [something that] talks of well-being is made into a controversy”. He cited yoga, which he said was not any city- or religion-specific “but belongs to the entire country”. “Yoga is linked to ‘Om’, and there is no harm in chanting it. Yoga is good for the body,” he further said. However, Kher would not be coming for the second International Yoga Day celebrations in Chandigarh where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in attendance too.
On politics: ‘Never say never’
Asked about the recent row at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, over some slogans and subsequent arrests of students union leaders, he insisted that there “cannot be different interpretations of ‘nationalist’”. “We need to stop with this anti-country movement while also trying to be nationalists,” he said, adding, “Humanity, nationalism and religion is the order according to me.”
Clarifying that he was not joining politics immediately, Kher said, “As an individual I have more power than I’d have by being in politics. But I will never say ‘never’.”
He also took a dig at artists and writers who had returned their awards after killings of rationalists and a general sense of “intolerance” in the country ever since the Modi-led BJP government has taken over at the Centre. “What has happened to the award-wapsi (return) gangs? Where have they disappeared? They have not even come out over recent killings of journalists.”
Meanwhile, claiming that “anybody who talks about national interest faced abuse”, in an interview to a TV channel he also took a shot at “trollers” of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), though he did not expressly name the Delhi chief minister or the AAP. “Someone will not concentrate on Delhi but keep talking about Modi-ji... about how Modi-ji’s mother came and met him, how his degrees are not correct, and so on.”
“There have been more political disappointments in this country than this government,” he also said.