New Delhi: Veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah, one who has never shied away from playing oddball characters on screen, actually did a mulcted cameo in real life. In a video, he passed a blanket judgment on the law and order situation of the country, referring to the death of a cop in Bulandshahr recently during a clash with a mob frenzied over cow slaughter.  

Shah, who insinuated that the right wing was running amuck without the fear of the law, seemed to be more or less following Bollywood colleague Aamir Khan, even as he had lambasted Khan for his remarks about thinking of leaving the country over “increasing” intolerance.

While Shah had castigated Khan for creating “fear psychosis” among Muslims by saying such things, he does not seem to be lagging behind Khan in such an attempt. Shah, in his latest outrage, said he feared for the life of his children. “I am worried about my children, their future. Tomorrow, what if a mob surrounds them and asks them about their religion...whether they are Hindu or Muslim,” he said.

Shah had, in a TV interview back in 2015, chided Khan for his comments as it could further “aggravate the sense of persecution of Muslims”. But now, his vocabulary seems to be facilitating just the same. Compare his words from 2015 to now: “It seems people are free to take the law into their hands. There is no fear of law left. A strange vitiated atmosphere is prevailing in the country at present.”

This is not the first time Shah has stoked controversy and cried wolf. Till date, Shah has dealt with his pro-Pakistan comments only in emotive terms, from the vantage of belonging to the Muslim community and not as a responsible and full citizen of India.

In 2015, he proudly attended the launch of the former foreign minister of Pakistan, Khurshid Kasuri’s book in India. Shah had been all praises for Pakistan at the launch. When put in the dock by the media, he resorted to a hackneyed liberal argument: Praising Pakistan does not mean criticising India.

Dealing with the same incident, Shah had made a categorical distinction between Pak-sponsored terrorists and Pakistanis who “bring the message of peace across the border”. He had said, responding to Shiv Sena, that cricket and music needed to be distinguished from politics, taking refuge behind the ‘painting with the same brush’ phrase.

But, in his latest outrage, he does not seem to draw a line between the frenzy of a wild mob and the multitude of Indians who believe in the idea of India as also belonging to them and rallying behind a coherent, cogent, well-articulated right-wing ideology. One deviation and it gives him the right to wield the brush to paint everyone with the same paint.

On yet another occasion, Shah, while he was in Pakistan, had denied that the neighbour was a truant enemy. “Indians are being brainwashed into believing that Pakistan is an enemy country without being aware of the historical background,” Shah had said while visiting Pakistan to promote his book ‘And then one day: A Memoir’ at the Lahore Literary Festival.

“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 our next-door neighbours,” he had said.

While he might of a rather elevated plinth of intellect and self-realisation, Shah must remember this is country that was born in bloodshed with Pakistan. Speaking of history, Shah must assume enough magnanimity to accept that his history might be different from the majority of Indians. And, this history counts for as much as his own.