Updated: February 17, 2020 9:08:30 pm
Veteran actor Ratna Pathak Shah says she feels hopeful, seeing young and educated people trying to making a difference.
At the India My Valentine event in Mumbai on Sunday evening, Ratna took the stage to talk about the “chaos” in the country, in reference to the protests against the National Register of Citizen (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The renowned actor-playwright began by drawing parallels between today and the time she grew up in.
“I grew up in the ’60s and the ’70s. It was a fascinating era, and so is this. During that time, everyone was thinking about the progress of India. How to make the nation ours and what kind of nation it should be. Because my family has always been associated with performing arts, we used to have discussions on these topics. What kind of a play should be written for new India? How can we represent this new world? On what issues should we write plays?
“The chaos and the brainstorming of that time can be seen even today. Of course, things have changed. The situation is extremely serious. During those times, we were talking about nation-building. Now, it looks like some people want to break and change the nation. That’s troubling,” Ratna Pathak Shah said.
The actor went on to praise the youth of the country, who she believed is not just seen in “a Shaheen Bagh or a Mumbai Bagh,” but is spread across the country.
“What I saw and heard today, what I see around me, it definitely increases hope. Never before has India had so many young, educated people come together at one time, and that’s going to make a big difference. It’s making that difference and we are seeing it everywhere, all over the country. It’s not limited to Shaheen Bagh or Mumbai Bagh. It is spread across.
“Again, art is showing the way. This kind of chaos is producing such wonderful writing, music and performances,” the actor said, before reciting a poem penned by popular poet-lyricist Hussain Haidry.
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Following her was Naseeruddin Shah, who said even though he has never felt the need to prove his patriotism to anyone, he was happy to be a part of an initiative, which celebrated one’s love for India.
“Despite the fact that I never felt the need to illustrate my patriotism or wear my love for my country on my sleeves, I must congratulate Swara (Bhasker, India My Valentine’s co-organiser) and the team for this initiative. I thank her for asking me to join all of you in celebrating our country and sending a valentine to our nation,” Naseeruddin said.
The National Award-winning actor added he has been wondering for a long time that if “whatever is going on in the country” is a result of changes over the last decade or had it always existed, albeit latently.
“At a time when a lot of us are grappling to understand what’s going on around us, I think I am not alone in agonising over a question: whether all this was always latent and has finally burst forth, not being able to be contained any longer.
“Or has there been in the last decade a complete change in our country. Apart from the fact that we are moving from three million ton to five million ton. I am not a social scientist, so I don’t know the answer,” he said.
Shah then read out excerpts from former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s “The Discovery of India”, saying the book holds the answers to the questions that he has been grappling with.
“But Pandit Jawaharlal’s book The Discovery of India can shed some light on this, so I would like to read some selections from the book. Maybe it will show you the direction. I have also in these times felt the need to re-examine and rediscover what it is that is unique about this country, what it is that has always been our pride and has won the admiration of the entire world,” he said.
The finale evening of “India My Valentine” also featured performances by Vishal Bhardwaj, Rekha Bhardwaj, Sumukhi Suresh, Kaneez Surka and Amir Aziz.
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