Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah said while Bollywood doesn’t indulge in Islamophobia and religious discrimination, the government has been encouraging filmmakers to make “pro-establishment” films.
He told NDTV that his comment on "section of Indian Muslims" celebrating the Taliban's return was misunderstood.
He said, "Even as the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan is a cause for concern for the whole world, celebrations of the barbarians by some sections of Indian Muslims is no less dangerous."
He, however, agreed that using the word “celebration” might not have been a good choice. "I was referring to those who openly made a statement in favour of the Taliban. The past history of the Taliban should make us pretty anxious," said Naseeruddin Shah.
"What saddened me was that there are sections of the Muslim community who are in agreement. I also received pats on the back from the rightwing. I don't need any such congratulations or label."
He further opened up about the industry and whether he ever felt any kind of discrimination, "I don't know if the Muslim community is facing any discrimination now in the film industry. I think our contribution is far too important. In this industry there is only one god, and that is Mammon. The amount of revenue you can generate makes for the amount of respect that you receive in this industry. The three Khans are still at the very top, they are unchallenged and still delivering. I have never felt any discrimination. I was advised early in my career to change my name. I kept it and I don't know that it would have made any difference."
“But the discrimination did exist outside,“ he added.
Talking about the situation outside the industry, he said completely harmless comment by Muslim leaders and students were being penalised, but no one really cared about the perpetrating violence against the Muslim community.
While there is not bigotry, he said film industry was witnessing a few changes.
"They are being encouraged by the government to make pro-government films, to make films lauding the efforts of the government. They also being financed, also promised a clean chit if they make movies which are propaganda, to put it bluntly," he said.
"In Nazi Germany also this was attempted. Filmmakers who were outstanding, world class, were rounded up and asked to make films propagating the Nazi philosophy."
"The kind of big budget films that are coming. The big ones cannot disguise the jingoistic agenda," he added.
The 71-year-old revealed he and his wife Ratna Pathak Shah have instructed their children to say, if anyone asked about their religion, that they practiced “Bhelpuri”.
"The establishment wants us to feel afraid. They want us to give into the feeling of fear. I have never been threatened with physical violence. My sympathies lie with those exposed to lynchings, cow slaughter accusations, often without proof. It is even more worrisome that those who inflict the harm are often congratulated."