Naseeruddin Shah is one of the few people in the Bollywood industry who is not afraid to express his opinions. Shah expressed his opinions about the way members of the ruling party and its supporters demonise the Mughals in an exclusive interview.
“Because the Mughals were the only ones the whole world knows about,” he said. “Mogul has become an English word, an American word; movie Mogul. Running them down is very convenient for the present dispensation to paint all Muslims in one colour and to claim that they looted the country, they destroyed temples, they did this and that and they had many wives. Every king does this.”
Sharing an example, Shah added, “Alexander destroyed the whole of Iran on his rampages but he is called Alexander the great. In Iran he is called ‘Alexander with two horns.’ He is spoken as a devil. He destroyed Persepolis, he destroyed all the treasures that were there of intellectual worth and of wealth and everything. (He) wiped out the Zoroastrian community because they had sided with the Iranian king.”
Shah also talked about the propaganda being spread about the brutality of Babur and Humayun. Shah said of Humayun, “Poor guy was an opium addict who tumbled down the steps when he was presumably too high one day (laughs). This was done by Akbar. Of course, the biggest villain of them all is Aurangzeb. They make no mention of the earlier dynasties that existed here. There were several Turkish dynasties existing before the Mughal dynasty.
According to Shah, it is incorrect to claim that the Mughals invaded India in order to plunder its wealth. “The Mughals came here to make this their homeland,” he said. “They did not come here to loot and scoot. Like Nadirshah stole the peacock throne. He destroyed Delhi and massacred the citizens of Delhi and took his loot and pushed off. People don’t know this.”
Shah also discussed how modern schools are modifying their curricula to promote particular political ideologies. “Theory of evolution is knocked out from the textbooks,” he declared. “I guess Einstein will then be removed from scientific textbooks next. The chief of ISRO then claimed that all scientific discoveries were contained in the Vedas and that it was incorrect to ascribe them to the west. What can you say in response to it now?”
When asked if he has always been rebellious, Shah said, “I think so (laughs). I rebelled against my father, my upbringing. I rebelled against the authorities in schools, college, drama school, FTII; everywhere I went. As Ram Guha, who is a good friend of mine, told me, ‘You seem to have a problem with figures of authority.’”