'If I Question BJP, I Am Called Anti-Hindu. How Can That Be?' Actor Prakash Raj

"Nobody is against Hinduism... I am not against dharma," the actor, who is vocal against the BJP, tells The Quint.

5 min read

"Nobody is against Hinduism or any other religion. I am not against dharma. But if speak against [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi, [Union Home Minister] Amit Shah, or the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], I am called 'anti-Hindu'. How can that be?" asks actor-turned-politician Prakash Raj, in a freewheeling chat with The Quint at the seventh edition of the Kerala Literature Festival held in Kozhikode.

The actor opens up about being summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a ponzi scam case recently, stating that while the ED is "blatantly and shamelessly" being used by the current regime, he doesn't "want to play the victim card."

Read edited excerpts below.

You were recently summoned by the ED in connection with a ponzi scam case. The agency later said you are not involved in the said case. What do you have to say about the accusations that the ED is 'targeting' critics of the ruling government?

Let's start with the summons I received. There is a company called Pawan Jewellers, and they had [allegedly] created some ponzi scam. Many years ago, I had done an ad for them. When the ED called me, I thought that since it is a government body, I should clear their doubts – as a citizen of this country. What is there to worry?

I went there and I was grilled for 13 and a half hours. I answered all their queries. They were quite efficient, they asked me good questions. They asked me about my wife's account, my sister's account, my foundation's account.

In the next two days, they said I am not involved in it. Well, the whole process was that. I don't want to play the 'victim card' by saying they tried to silence me. If they continue to do it, then their intention is very clear.

On the other hand, the image of the ED before the world is true. When you get into a ruling party, you are cleared. It is proven and written in between the lines that there is harassment.

All ruling party governments have done this before, too. It is not just this particular government. Any government which has power will use its wings. But now, this regime is using it blatantly and shamelessly. They are not even worried and are going all out.

"Not that everyone is a saint, but yes, we have seen ED officials getting caught with bribes, suddenly going after someone over allegations... This is what people are seeing."

Streaming platform Netflix was 'forced' to take down the film 'Annapoorani' after Hindutva groups claimed it "hurt Hindu sentiments" by making references to Brahmins eating meat. What is your take on this?

What is this banning culture? Let them read their own books first; there is an instance of Ram eating deer. Most Brahmins I know eat meat. It is their choice. Does that remove the Brahminism in them? Well, that is for them to deal with.

But boycotting a film for that... It is not true that only the Brahmin character in the film is eating meat. We, in our own lives, know thousands of people who do so.

The members of Hindu Parishad are only exporting beef in this country! Look at the hypocrisy! Controversies like this are just to bring in the 'Hindu Rashtra' narrative during the elections.

Nobody is against Hinduism or any other religion. I am not against dharma. But if speak against Modi, Amit Shah, or the BJP, I am called 'anti-Hindu'. How can that be?

We are talking politically, we are talking about their behavioural patterns, we are talking about their governance. If you merely talk against them, they are bringing in this narrative. That's just politics. This is something the civil society should understand.

Have you ever lost out on opportunities or 'paid a price' for your political views against the ruling government?

When you have decided to fight, when you have decided to have integrity, you can't play the 'victim card'. Yes, they do it. It is only when I say that it is painful that they will know they have hurt me. I am ready for this. I have known this. It is not that I came into this and suddenly realised it.

I am not going to cry. If they think that I am going to cry, they are mistaken.


You were recently subjected to trolling for a post on the Chandrayaan mission. Has social media trolling ever affected you?

Trolling is trolling – let them do it. I don't care. See, me being open about certain issues has given me a liberated lifestyle. I know who I am. I don't have to be around people thinking that everyone should love me.

Chandrayaan [post] was a political statement. I was not making fun of the scientists. We have a 'chaiwala' who would come later and claim that he is the reason for [the success of Chandrayaan]. So, I introduced another 'chaiwala' who is there. It is a Malayali joke.

If these 'boycotts' don't understand a joke, what will you do? They are very 'serious' guys. They should be in an ICU [Intensive Care Unit], not in this country. If you can't find humour, if you can't find an expression, if you don't understand my anguish, then so shall it be. People who love me will stand by me.

And the people who I am fighting, they are not my enemies. What I am trying to tell them is that both of us can have differences of opinion. But we're on the same boat – called India... Bharat. And it is sinking. Why are we just being argumentative Indians?

"Everyone has a right to have their own opinion. If you're going to hate me for being me, that's not my problem."

What do you have to say about the rise of films like 'Animal', which has been accused by many of being misogynistic and Islamophobic?

I am even against banning The Kashmir Files and The Kerala Story. I am only against the Prime Minister of this country becoming a PRO for such films. That is his political agenda.

I wouldn't want to ban a film like Animal. It should come out and let the dialogue continue. If the people are worried that such films are coming out, let them express their worries. Let the people decide.

At the same time, certain thought processes should go into making a film like that. It will come out only if there is discussion on both sides.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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