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Why is Naseeruddin Shah under attack? (Column: Bollywood Spotlight)

It is strange how I never thought of Naseeruddin Shah as a Muslim until now when his religious identity is being used against him to prove he is anti-national.

But hang on. Why is Naseer anti-national? Because he expressed trepidation about the future of this country and, more specifically, his children.


Here is what Naseer said: “The poison has already spread. It will be very difficult to capture this djinn back in the bottle. There is complete impunity for those who take law into their own hands. In many areas we are witnessing that the death of a cow has more significance than that of a police officer. I feel anxious thinking about my children. Because they don’t have a religion. Tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks ‘Are you a Hindu or a Muslim’, they will have no answer. It worries me because I don’t see the situation improving anytime soon.”


Naseeruddin Shah’s Controversy

I am a little lost after repeatedly reading this. Which part of the observation is anti-national? Have we all not felt the same terror grip our hearts in recent times as mobs decided to lynch alleged cattle-offenders? Or set on fire a rape victim who doesn’t withdraw her case against her offenders? Don’t we all worry about our children? Except maybe Anupam Kher, who thinks everything is hunky-dory in India today.

But you never know what will be deemed “anti-national” in today’s super-charged atmosphere of pseudo-patriotism, will you? Is it anti-national to say Vivek Oberoi playing the Prime Minister is a bit of a joke? Or is it seditious to suggest that demonetisation was a demoniacal disaster? Am I going to be branded anti-national for defending Naseer’s right to defend his family? Is it right to book him a ticket to Karachi because he spoke about his insecurities?

But I am happy to inform you that Naseer is not going anywhere. He is not wrong in feeling anxious about the future. And if he speaks up about his insecurities and is slammed for it, then isn’t it proof that he’s right in feeling insecure?

As the outspoken Swara Bhaskar said to me: “Quite simply, the attack on Naseeruddin Shah proves his point more than anything else. Intolerance is a government-approved malaise in this new Hindustan of ours.”

My dear Shabana Azmi is right in saying there should be some amount of distinction between the government and the national identity. If one criticises the government, one is not being anti-national. If one doesn’t watch Anupam Kher play Manmohan Singh, one is not pro-Congress. And if one disagrees with Mrs Kirron Kher that “The Accidental Prime Minister” (which coincidentally stars her husband) should be sent to the Oscars, one is not anti-national either.

The country is in the grip of an unprecedented culture of conformity. Everybody must love certain politicians to qualify as a true Indian. And if you have any reservations about any of the government’s policies (including reservations) you will be booked an air ticket to Pakistan. Or worse, forced to watch Vivek Oberoi play our Prime Minister on the day the film releases.

I threw away my Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mehndi Hassan CDs the day Mrs Kher declared her husband’s film Oscar-worthy without seeing it. Am I a good Indian? (Bollywood Country)


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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


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