Bollywood’s venerated thespian Naseeruddin Shah has spoken out against the rising popularity of propaganda films like ‘The Kerala Story’ and ‘The Kashmir Files’, both of which revolve around Islamophobic content. The former centers around the debunked claim that thousands of women in the state of Kerala were forced to convert to Islam and then recruited into ISIS. ‘The Kashmir Files’, a film about the mass evacuation of Hindus from Indian-occupied Kashmir, was slammed by critics for distorting facts.
“Now the more jingoist you are, the more popular you become, because this is what has been ruling this country. It’s not enough to love your country but beat drums about it and you have to create imaginary enemies,” the veteran actor said while speaking to Free Press Journal.
Shah said that filmmakers behind ‘The Kerala Story’ or ‘The Kashmir Files’ don’t realise that what they’re doing is harmful.
“In fact, films like Kerala Story and Gadar 2, I haven’t seen them, but I know what they are about. It’s disturbing that films like Kashmir Files are so massively popular whereas movies made by Sudhir Mishra, Anubhav Sinha and Hansal Mehta, who are trying to portray the truth of their times, don’t get seen.”
The ‘Masoom’ actor described the current environment “frightening” considering how filmmakers today are resorting to making movies on baseless accusations that trample down other communities:
“It’s hard to resort to abstraction and capture life as it is. So regressive is a pretty mild word for what’s going on. It’s frightening when filmmakers are being coopted into making films which praise all the wrong things and run down other communities for no reason at all. It’s a dangerous trend.”
The actor had previously written an open letter about the accusations of love-jihad on his 41-year-long marriage to Hindu wife Ratna Pathak, saying that he and his family were supportive of his wife’s decision to remain a Hindu.
“As it happened, the subject of my wife Ratna converting to Islam was brought up just once by my mother and that as enquiry, to which, on receiving a reply in the negative, she concurred with a ‘Haan, mazhab kaise badla jaa sakta hai.’ Whether this statement of a woman weaned exclusively on a diet of the Quran makes more sense than the hate-filled rhetoric of ‘Hindus and Muslims cannot live together’, I will leave to the judgement of the reader.”