Few days ago, acclaimed actor Naseeruddin Shah refuelled the ‘intolerance’ debate by making some controversial statements. He had said that he is worried about a situation where his children may be surrounded by angry mobs and asked whether they are Hindu or Muslim. He also said that a poison has spread in Indian society, which is very difficult to contain. The veteran actor’s comments have invited sharp reactions from people. Several people from Bollywood have also reacted to it.
Today few media houses reported that director Madhur Bhandarkar and actor Ashutosh Rana have also come in the support of comments made by Shah. Indian Express ran a story with the headline Ashutosh Rana, Madhur Bhandarkar express solidarity after Naseeruddin Shah’s law and order remarks, while Quint declared that Ashutosh, Madhur Bhandarkar & Others Back Naseeruddin’s Remark. The New Indian Express also said that Madhur Bhandarkar back Naseeruddin Shah’s comment in its report, and Business Standard said that Ashutosh Rana, Madhur Bhandarkar back Naseeruddin Shah’s comment.
But these reports are a total distortion of what Madhur Bhandarkar said, because he did not support the comments made by Shah, but only defended Shah’s right to voice his opinions. Bhandarkar made the comments while interacting with media in Lucknow, a video of which was uploaded by ANI on Youtube. In the video, Bhandarkar is seen saying, “Everyone has own point of view, the right to speak. We live in a democracy. I don’t think there is any fear like this. I think everyone is equal in India and this is his point of view. This is the special thing about our country that everyone can express their opinions. I don’t think there is any problem or intolerance.”
The filmmaker was basically saying that he disagrees with Shah, but he supports Shah’s right to express his opinions. He clearly said that he does not think there is any fear or intolerance in the country.
Similarly, Ashutosh Rana also did not support the comments of Naseeruddin Shah directly unlike the media reports. In the video of his comments, it is seen that Rana was talking about reactions to Shah’s comments.
Ashutosh Rana said that if someone says something, there should not be a trial on that. People should listen if someone is saying something. He said that people should have the right to express their opinion without fear. He did not say that there are fear and intolerance in the country, or that he agrees with comments made by Shah.
Interestingly, on December 23 ANI had published a report titled Ashutosh Rana, Madhur Bhandarkar back Naseeruddin Shah’s comment, but now they have pulled down the story from their website. Google search shows the story in the search results, but clicking on it returns 404 error.
Perhaps they realized that they are making a wrong claim in the report. But several media houses are still carrying the ANI story with that misleading headline.