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Dear Muslim Celebrities: Why do you play the Communal Card?
Let's start with a hard fact:
India is at least 81% Hindu. No matter how you slice and dice, this is an overwhelmingly Hindu majority nation. There's no denying of that fact.
In such an extremely diverse India, there are celebrities. There are celebrities from every language, skin colour, height, weight, gender, caste background, class connection, religious affiliation and so on. The fact of the matter is that, most fans of celebrities hardly care about the celebrity's religious or other affiliations.
In such diverse and unifying India, time and again, we see some very silly, unwarranted and dangerous communal cards being played by some celebrities. This column focuses on a few such cards being played by celebrities who happen to have Muslim names or parents. Sanjay Dutt, Emraan Hashmi, Shah Rukh Khan, Mohammed Azharuddin and Shabana Azmi have been picked to “talk” to, in this column.
So let's talk to them : Hello celebrities. Let's get it straight. Each one of you have been very successful in your art, politics or sports field. Majority of your fans didn't care about your father's name, mother's name, place of birth, religious affiliation, spouse's religion, children's beliefs, your visits to places of worship (or the lack of it), your income class, your foreign trips, your meetings with other nationalities or other religious groups, your paper/TV/book subscription, your charity donation to religious or non-religious groups, your competence in any religious area, your dress at your home or during festivals... the list goes on...
Then why the heck do you play communal card at the drop of a hat, defaming the supremely accommodating, truly secular Indian society? Yes, there may be irritating apples in India, but they are far outnumbered by people who give a damn about your background or belief, and respect you for what you are capable of in the field of art, sports and others.
1) Let's start with Sanjay Dutt : In 2009, you said this: “I was there (in jail) for 3.5 years and was tortured because my mother was a Muslim, and I was a Muslim's son.” in public. [link]
Sir, Are you not ashamed to say such a thing, after decades of love, affection and support given by the Indian society?
You are married three times and your first two wives were Hindus -- Richa Sharma and Rhea Pillai.
In spite of being caught with an illegal AK 56 gun at your home, that too during a very sensitive early 1990s of Mumbai, your loyal fans adored you as Munna Bhai during later years. They never deserted you. In fact, your loyal fans (yes, most are Hindus), prayed for you, putting your picture next to their beloved God Ganesha.
You have been exposed by media of having links with dangerous gangsters, but people have pardoned you. [Link]
You have admitted even in the Supreme Court that you had dinner with India's most wanted terrorist and gangster. But still people watch your movies. [Link]
Your father has been elected to Indian parliament 5 times and your sister is also a politician just like you.
So, sir, why play sick communal card bringing disrepute to your entire fan following, the system you has made you a celebrity and your own country? Fight a case by its merit in the court if needed, but not by playing victim in the public. Should we say shame on you?
2) Let's now talk to Emran Hashmi: In 2009 you claimed: “I had finalised a deal to buy a flat, but the society refused to issue a No Objection Certificate because I am a Muslim”. [Link]
Dude, you had problem buying one property, and suddenly you realize you are a Muslim and that must be the reason?
Let's get some things straight. No one cared if your mother was a Christian, your dad was Muslim and your cousins are Hindu.
No one cared you were a Muslim when you went on kissing countless girls on the screen. Did anyone count how many Hindu girls you kissed on screen till date?
Also, have you seen 'exclusive to Christians' apartment ad, that too government approved buildings, from Mohali? Wake up.. This is India and there are numerous cases where people prefer their own community inside their residential societies.
Yes, people give apartments based on many of their own biases. Some are legal and some are not. If you dig deeper, there will be plenty of areas where Muslims discriminate against Hindus too. Visit Malapuram district in Kerala once and speak to some Hindu land owners whose land is surrounded by Muslim land owners. Stop being a cry baby due to one episode. The same Mumbai will have lakhs of apartments for sale where the owner does not care 3 hoots about who is buying, as long as you pay the money they want. You and your uncle Mahesh Bhatt going to press and painting yourself as “communal victims” will not help. You have enough fame, name and money to fight cases in court if you see some injustice.
3) Now the so-called “King” Shah Rukh Khan: Let's only focus on his latest 2013 interview: “I imagine this (giving "Indian" first names to kids) will prevent my offspring from receiving unwarranted eviction orders or random fatwas in the future.” [Link]
You must be kidding.. right Shah Rukh? Eviction order for your kids? LoL!
Your grandfather maybe from Afghanistan, your father maybe from today's Pakistan, and you may be married to a Hindu wife. But no one cared in the past 20 years when you kept rising to stardom.
No one cared if you went to study at Jamia Milia Islamia, while the name itself says something about religion there.
Majority of the Indians do not see your movies because you are a “Muslim” hero..They like your acting skills and they adore you.
Even when you publicly created drunken nuisance at Wankhede stadium, still people went and watched your movies. Did anyone ask you what was the religion of that poor security person whom you abused in a drunken state that night, like a third grade street thug?
Majority of India supported you when you had to face immigration issues in America. Even the government of India stepped into the controversy, which is not a norm at all. In fact more support came to you even though another proud Indian Muslim, Abdul Kalam was frisked twice at a US airport against norms. (And to his credit, Abdul Kalam did not play any victim card like you).
So dear SRK – After a huge fan following for decades, living a dream life in India, owning a sports team and enjoying lavish media focus, you should be the last one to even think of playing a communal card. So disappointing...
4) Now let's say hello to a Congress MP, Azharuddin: In 2000, after being banned for life for match fixing scandal, you said something like this: “I am being targeted because I belong to the minority community”. [Link]
You must be really out of your mind, aren't you Azhar bhai?
For heavens sake, you were made to lead a cricket team from a country of 82% Hindus, and also a country where cricket is a religion by itself! People looked at your sporting talent, and not your first name Mohammed.
When you were banned for life (till 2012 court ruling) from Indian cricket, it was not just you. The decisions were taken based on the dirty games played by many players. Yes, Hindu named players also got the boot.
You could date and marry (that too make her the 2nd wife) a Hindu girl, and no one had any objection in India.
You were elected to the highest body of decision making of India, the parliament, using the ticket from the ruling Congress party. Wasn't that a privilege that the democratic India offered you? Yes, everyone knew that you had the name Mohammed on your election ticket.
You were not even forced to keep the Indian traditional welcome teeka on the forehead, which is common while arriving/departing the country, or while celebrating. Even the English and West Indian players won't refuse. But your religious “sentiments” were cared for and as far as we remember, you didn't sport a teeka proudly as a captain, like Dhoni does.
Looking back at the silly and sick communal card you played, after being caught cheating, are you not ashamed dear Azhar?
5) Lastly, let's say hello to Shabana Azmi: You claimed in 2008: “If Javed Akhtar (husband) and Shabana Azmi (wife) cannot get a flat in Bombay because they are Muslims, then what are we talking about?' [Link]
Ouch.. that's too simplistic and silly to even consider saying Ms.Azmi.
None of your fans stopped watching your movies all these years because you were a Muslim actress. They cared for your beauty, talent and expression, and that's pretty much it.
No one cared if both of your parents were members of communist party, while majority of Indians don't care a hoot for communism. In fact majority of the Indians despise communist ideology, but still that never affected your rise in Bollywood, in the same city you referred, Mumbai/Bombay!
No one cared if you are the second wife of a man who claims to be an atheist. For your information, India is overwhelmingly God believing and God following. Atheists are fringe minority in this nation.
Not many cared if you portrayed for the first time in Indian films a lesbian act on screen, while lesbianism is such a big no-no for the mainstream in India.
I ask, why should we even care for any of these? Still at the very first opportunity to showcase your “Muslim” identity, you stooped down to a shameful level and went public with your grievance? Just like Emraan, don't you think you are super famous, rich and well connected to fight any real grievance in the court? Playing “Muslim” card in public after all the decades of success in a not-so-Muslim India was OK with you?
Also, did you or your famous husband speak up even once to support Subramanian Swamy's Madras HC 2007 petition about Melvisharam panchayat? It would help if you can read and educate about some discrimination in India by Muslims too: [link]
Conclusion: Grow up guys... Grow up: India is not perfect. There might be that odd feeling of discrimination you will see. But there are 1000s of places where no one cares about your background. All they care is your talent, money and other relevant things. Do not be itching to turn everything into a Hindu-Muslim issue for some cheap publicity. There are laws to help you if you can't get an apartment, if you can't get a bail, if you don't feel safe at a particular place, if you can't release a movie and so on. Why not use them just like crores of other Indians?
Of all the people, why do you, the celebrities, who have become so successful, rich, and popular in a secular and democratic India, play that shady communal card? We can at least understand if a poor butcher or mechanic on the street plays victim for whatever reason.
Why do you betray your tremendous fan following with such silly communal cards? The next time your fans will keep the silly card that you played about your “identity”, which they hardly cared all these year.
Why feed Pakistanis, terrorists and others who eagerly wait for an opportunity to malign India's pluralistic growth success? For instance Shah Rukh Khan's “safety” in India is a big concern for Pakistan, where minorities were reduced from a quarter of its population 65 years back to almost extinction now.
Why do a big disservice to the nation and the society that has skyrocketed you to such celebrity status?
Think.. Introspect and please grow up...
Author : Kiran KS | Follow the writer on twitter/KiranKS
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Disclaimer: The author is a commentator on issues of national interest. These are his personal views and do not necessarily reflect IBTL's opinion.
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