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Naseeruddin Shah Didn’t Want Ratna Pathak Shah To Change Her Religion Upon Marriage, Reveals His Mother’s Reaction To It

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These days, talking about anything at all in the country is like navigating a field chock-a-block with landmines. You never know what it is that you say or do or post on social media that might trigger someone and have trolling or even legal action explode all over your face. The subject of Love Jihad is right on top of the list, with it become a pet agenda of politicians eager to exploit the shred of truth and truckloads of public ignorance about the subject. Amidst all that noise, there are stories of interfaith love being shared and celebrated, with couples and families coming forward to speak up. Actor Naseeruddin Shah too spoke about the time he was getting married to Ratna Pathak Shah, and the subject of converting religion came up.

The two veteran stage and screen actors have an interfaith marriage. Shah is a Muslim and Pathak, a Hindu. They’ve been married for close to four decades now. Recently, in a video interview with Karwan-e-Mohabbat, a YouTube channel, the Bandish Bandits actor spoke about how he hoped that his marriage to Ratna Pathak Shah would set a healthy precedent for inter-faith marriages.

“We have taught our children about every religion. But we have never told them that they belong to any particular religion. I always believed that these differences would slowly fade away. I believed that my marriage to a Hindu woman would set a healthy precedent. I don’t think this is wrong.”

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He also spoke about something that happened at the time of their marriage. Shah’s mother wondered if he wanted his wife to change her religion from Hindu to Muslim. And his response was a clear no. But what was even more touching was how his mother understood and respected his decision despite having an orthodox upbringing herself.

“My mother who was uneducated, brought up in an orthodox household, prayed five times a day, observed Roza all her life, went for the Haj pilgrimage, she said, ‘The things that have been taught to you in your childhood how can that change? It is not right to change one’s religion’,” said Naseeruddin Shah.

The actor also opened up about his concerns over the divide between Hindus and Muslims over ‘love jihad’, saying that this is not the future that he envisioned for the country.

“I am really furious with the way divisions are being created, like the love jihad tamasha in UP. Firstly, the people who coined this phrase don’t know the meaning of the word jihad.”

Shah is of the opinion that ‘love jihad’ is an attempt to stigmatising inter-faith marriages in the hopes that the social interactions between Hindus and Muslims would sour even further. “They not only want to discourage inter-faith marriages but also curtail social interactions between Hindus and Muslims.”

Also Read: Richa Chadha Feels Sorry For The ‘Loveless People’ Who Bashed The Tanishq’s Interfaith Commercial, Says Her Life Is Like That Ad.

It’s indeed a perspective worthy pondering over. What a lot of people do not understand is that nobody is denying the truth there is to forced conversions, but rather criticising how it is being turned into a political agenda that allows people to exploit it for their own gain, and curb any expression of it in the name of sentiments being hurt. The latter, especially, is this dangerous tool in the hands of those who want to hack at anything and everything that even tries to express a sentiment not in alignment with their own.

Take Amazon Prime Video’s Tandav for example, which is getting booked for hurting religious sentiments. Arre baba, it is a show based off Indian politics, and if Indian politics and its people are all about religion, all the time, then why shouldn’t the show portray it authentically? Come to think of it, the biggest criticism against the show is that it is too simplistic in its take on politics. The irony that the one bit they portray realistically lands them in trouble is not lost on anyone. And let’s be honest, as Naseeruddin Shah pointed out, the outrage is mean to be swerved around as a political agenda to drive further wedge between people in the country.

I’d like to think that in India, at heart, most people are like Naseeruddin Shah’s mother. They are devout practitioners of their respective religions, and don’t really care about what you preach and who you pray to. That unity in diversity wasn’t a sham until politics stuck its meddlesome leg in the middle and tore the secular fabric of the country.

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