Actor-playwright Naseeruddin Shah says he is unaffected by the flak he received for supporting his colleagues over the FIR lodged against them for writing an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They were expressing their concern over growing incidents of mob lynching.
Shah was among the 180 signatories from the cultural community, who in their open letter dated October 7 not only condemned the FIR but also wrote that they “endorsed” every word written by the 49 personalities that included filmmakers Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and writer-columnist Ramchandra Guha.
Today, during the opening session of India Film Project, titled, Making of a Legend: A Masterclass in Acting, Shah was asked by a scribe where he gets the courage to express his views on socio-political conditions in the country. The journalist, in the same vein, also asked the Padma Bhushan recipient if his opinionated nature has cost him films and affected his relationships with his Bollywood colleagues.
“I never had a close relationship with the industry in any case and I don’t know whether that has affected my standing because I don’t get offered very much work at the best of the times. But I just felt that what I said needed to be said. I stand by it. I faced a lot of abuse by people, who had nothing better to do. It doesn’t affect me at all. But what is disturbing is this open hate…” Shah replied.
The open letter that he signed read, “Can this be called an act of sedition? Or is harassment by misusing the courts a ploy to silence citizens’ voices?”
“All of us, as members of the Indian cultural community, as citizens of conscience, condemn such harassment. We do more: we endorse every word of the letter our colleagues wrote to the Prime Minister. This is why we share their letter here once again and appeal to the cultural, academic and legal communities to do the same. This is why more of us will speak every day. Against mob lynching. Against the silencing of people’s voices. Against the misuse of courts to harass citizens,” the letter added.