Haven’t You Made Enough?: Naseeruddin on ‘Apolitical’ B’wood Stars

“If you dismiss the anger of the youth, you are creating dangers for yourself,” he says.

3 min read
Actor Naseeruddin Shah.

Reacting to the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on 11 December, Naseeruddin Shah has said he is not worried but angry that Indians are being forced by the ruling party to prove their citizenship. In an interview with The Wire, the veteran actor questioned why his passport, voter’s ID, driver’s license and Aadhaar card weren’t enough proof of his citizenship. He also expressed his rage against the violence and vilification that students, who have been at the forefront of countrywide protests against the CAA, have been subjected to, and spoke about his views on why Bollywood chooses to remain ‘apolitical’.

Read on for excerpts:

Don’t Have a Birth Certificate; Am I Going to Be Excluded? Asks Naseeruddin

“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.”
Naseeruddin Shah, Actor

Naseeruddin Condemns Violence Against Student Protestors

“The contempt for students. That is what is hurting me most of all – the contempt for the student community, the contempt for the intellectuals. I suppose, people who never knew what it was like to be a student, or people who never had any intellectual pursuits would consider students or intellectuals to be a pest. It is not surprising that the prime minister has no empathy or compassion for students.”
Naseeruddin Shah

He added, “There is a video clip of him saying, before he became prime minister, that he has never studied. Which is considered a charming and candid statement at that time but in the light of all that has happened in the last six years, it has acquired eerie proportions. And then, of course, this was before he got his doctorate in political science, which, like Anurag [Kashyap], I would also be very interested in having a look at. So having never been one of this community who feels responsible for the country they are going to grow up in, how can you expect any empathy for the students from them?”

“There’s no leader in this movement, it’s all spontaneous anger that is arising. If you dismiss the anger of the youth, you are creating dangers for yourself. That’s all I can say.”  
Naseeruddin Shah

On Police Brutality at JNU

“The amazing turnaround of the Delhi police in the face of documentary, video evidence that the injured are blamed. When there’s not a single shot or photograph of any of these students attacking anybody. All you see is visuals of the students being attacked. All you see is visuals of the police in UP brutalising passers by. All you hear about is that people who have been dead for six years have been charged with rioting. This is what is amiss.”
Naseeruddin Shah

Does Bollywood Have an Obligation to Speak Up?

“As far as the established figures are considered, it’s understandable why they don’t speak up. One does wonder how much do they have to lose? Haven’t you made enough to last you seven generations? It’s like this line from Gibran - “Dread of thirst when your well is full; The thirst that is unquenchable.” It does seem to be like that. Loss of popularity, loss of revenue… will it kill you? The star is mainly concerned with themselves and not other people around, otherwise there would be more parity. 
Naseeruddin Shah

On Deepika’s Show of Solidarity at JNU

“You have to laud the courage of a girl like Deepika who is in the top four moment 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. Their silence is not as important as the vociferousness of the younger generation.” 
Naseeruddin Shah

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!