On his return to India after a successful tour to Pakistan, veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah expressed regret at the animosity towards Pakistan prevalent in his home country.
Naseeruddin Shah was in Pakistan in February to promote his book And then one day: A Memoir. He also graced the Lahore Literary Festival and conducted a theater workshop at the Karachi Arts Council to a packed audience.
In an interview to entertainment website Bollywood Hungama, Shah said, “It is tragic that often-times performers from Pakistan are prevented from performing in this country. Recently, there was a very disturbing instance of a Pakistani artiste’s work being destroyed in Ahmedabad. But they welcome us in Pakistan with open arms.”
He stressed the need to keep political differences between the two countries aside. “I keep going to Pakistan because I feel it is very important to have a person-to-person contact. We can’t afford to be swayed by all the political rhetoric. Politicians will change colours whenever it suits them. Indians are being brainwashed into believing Pakistan to be the enemy country without being aware of the historical background.”
He further added that Indians need to look beyond the political animosity. “I’d make a very strong appeal for that. And this has nothing whatsoever to with my being Muslim. What can we possibly gain from this form of ragging that we practice against Pakistan? It is a bully’s way of asserting himself. They are next door neighbors.”
Mentioning the love and regard for Indians in Pakistan, the actor said, “The tragedy of the political divide between the two countries is symbolical. It should go. That would never happen until we travel to Pakistan more often and interact with the local people. There is a great deal of curiosity and admiration in Pakistan for what India has achieved.”
He added, “They love me unconditionally in Pakistan. They are nuts about our stars like Salman and Shah Rukh. But I also sense a reverent affection in Pakistan for actors like me, Om Puri and Farooq Sheikh. I feel very special in Pakistan.”