Amidst massive protest nationwide in India against the Citizenship Amendment Act, renowned film and theater actor Naseeruddin Shah has expressed his anger and concern about the number of issues faced by India today.
In an interview with The Wire, Shah was blunt and forthright, covering a wide range of subjects, such as the ongoing anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protests, the rise of communalism and why the big names of the film industry remain silent.
Shah asked why his passport, voter’s ID, driver’s licence and identity card weren’t enough proof of his citizenship.
“I don’t have a birth certificate. I cannot produce one. Does that mean we are all going to be excluded? I do not need any reassurances that Muslims don’t need to be worried. I am not worried. If living here (in India) for 70 years does not prove me to be an Indian, I don’t know what does. I am not afraid, I am not anxious, I am angry,” Shah said.
He also expressed optimism about India’s youth which has raised a strong voice against injustice.
“Even in the film industry, the younger actors and directors have risen against this law. Silence of big-name stars is not surprising. They feel they have a lot to lose. But even Deepika Padukone has a lot to lose and she did come out in public to show her solidarity.”
“You have to laud the courage of a girl like Deepika who is in the top four and yet takes a step like this. Let us see how she takes this. She’ll lose a few endorsements, sure. Will that impoverish her? Will that lessen her popularity? Will that make her less beautiful that she is? They’re going to come around sooner or later. The only god that the film industry worships is money,” he added.
Shah’s family has been in the ranks of the Army and administrators in the Indian government at different times, and never in his life has he ever felt that being a Muslim was a handicap. Now, he points out, he is reminded of that identity all the time, which is very worrying.