Dear Rana Ayyub,
After reading your recent article praising the ‘bravery’ of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan for portraying three Muslim characters in back to back movies, I was filled with a sense of deep anger and disgust. I do follow you on Twitter and have read most of your hate-filled tweets and columns on NDTV (it comes as no surprise that NDTV entertains your rants), but this time you have taken your hate to an altogether different level.
Rana Ayyub ji, in your article, you claim that in India, it is difficult to find a Muslim or a Christian character as lead roles in films. Are you really serious about this? Without giving too much exercise to my tiny brain, I can think of at least a few popular movies where the lead character belongs to either of these two communities. Very recently, we had Salman Khan playing the titular character in the movie Sultan. The movie went on to become a huge success at the box office. One of the all-time favorite movies of both Bhakts and anti-nationals is 3 Idiots, where R Madhavan played the character of Farhan Qureshi, a middle class Muslim boy pursuing his engineering in a top college.
In South India Rana Ayyub Ji, we had Kamal Hassan playing the character of a RAW agent Wisam Ahmed Kashmiri in the movie Viswaroopam, who infiltrates the Taliban and Al Qaeda and manages to diffuse a ‘dirty bomb’ in New York. It is an altogether different thing that Muslim fundamentalists raised their ugly heads for no real reason and created problems in the release of the master piece film.
The list is rather long. Ajay Devgan in Kachhe Dhaage, Mukesh Rishi in Sarfarosh (although it wasn’t a lead character, it was a significant character nevertheless), Amitabh Bachhan as Antony Gansalves in the iconic Amar Akbar Antony, Amitabh Bachhan as Iqbal in Coolie, Farhan Akhtar in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dimple Kapadia in Bobby have all played characters belonging to the Christian or Muslim community. So, your above claim is ridiculous and malicious. It has never mattered to the Indian audience whether the lead actor or the lead character is a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian.
Rana Ayyub ji, you then go on to mention that after his statement on intolerance, Shahrukh was criticized by the right wing in India. Yes, I do agree with what you say. But he was criticized not because he was a Muslim, but because many people felt that he had absolutely no business to speak about intolerance at that point in time and provide ammunition to the opposition for disrupting parliament and to the pseudo intellectual award wapsi brigade, especially when he has been adored by Hindus and Muslims alike. Had Shahrukh been a Hindu, similar questions would still have been raised. The people of India criticized Om Puri also for his obnoxious statements on the Indian army. Om Puri was not a Muslim. People of India criticized both Mani Shankar Iyer and Salman Khurshid for their rant against the current NDA government in Pakistan. Mani Shankar Iyer was not criticized less because he is a Hindu. So please do not bring in religion in anything and everything. When people do not agree with a point of view, they have every right to criticize. It is not that you and your ilk do not criticize people who you do not like. You tweets are filled with deep hatred for PM Modi, Amit Shah, Arnab Goswami, Anupam Kher and a lot of the NDA ministers.
Your next claim is that in both the neo-jingoistic films of the 90s and the recent nationalistic films, those complicit in terror acts belong to the Muslim community or connote to it. How do you then expect the Al Qaeda or the ISIS to be portrayed? Do you expect them to be shown wearing a tilak on their foreheads or perhaps a sacred thread and chanting the Gayatri mantra? Having said that, I can think of a few movies where Hindus have been shown as accomplices to terrorists. Who can forget Mirchi Seth and Veeran Anna in the movie Sarfarosh? In the Tamil remake of A Wednesday, one of the four terrorists that the lead character kills is Karamchand, a hindu arms supplier. All Muslims are definitely not terrorists and I know many liberal (in the true sense and not by your twisted definition) and peace loving Muslims. But you cannot run away from the reality that most terrorists are Muslims and carry their terror activities in the name of Islam.
You, Rana Ayyub Ji, have repeatedly mentioned in many of your tweets and columns that that there is a rise in Islamophobia the world over. Do you realize that one of the major reasons for this in India is journalists like you? It is because of you playing the victim card at the drop of a hat and your selective criticism that is painting the entire Muslim community in bad light. There was not a single tweet from you on what happened in Dhulagarh recently. You have not spoken a word about some Bengalis not being allowed to perform Durga Puja in their own homeland. On the contrary, you have heaped praise on Mamata Bannerjee for being the most vocal in opposing PM Modi. India is a country that has celebrated its Muslim heroes since independence without looking at them as members from the so-called minority community. APJ Abdul Kalam, Dilip Kumar, the three Khans of bollywood, Mohammed Azharuddin, Zaheer Khan, Zakir Hussain, AR Rahman, Bismillah Khan, Sania Mirza are notable examples of this fact. So for heaven’s sake, please stop playing the minority card and do not further divide our society in the name of religion by writing such articles that are in really bad taste.
The biggest irony is that after reading your article on Shahrukh and my reply to you, you would retain your secular credentials, but I will be termed a sanghi hate-mongering bhakt, but this is something we are used to and it doesn’t really bother us.
A right winger