Mus­lim star’s role draws out­rage in In­dian vil­lage

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

An In­dian vil­lage had to can­cel a per­for­mance of a tra­di­tional Hindu play mo­ments be­fore it was due to start after far-right ac­tivists op­posed the par­tic­i­pa­tion of a Mus­lim Bol­ly­wood star, re­ports said on Oc­to­ber 7.

Nawazud­din Sid­diqui, best known out­side of In­dia for his role in The Lunch­box, had been due to per­form in a the­atre pro­duc­tion based on the Ra­mayana in his home vil­lage of Bud­hana in Ut­tar Pradesh state.

But or­gan­is­ers can­celled the event after ac­tivists from the ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist Shiv Sena said they were op­posed to a Mus­lim ac­tor tak­ing part in the Hindu play, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

“A few mem­bers of the Shiv Sena didn’t want a Mus­lim man to play a char­ac­ter in Ram Leela,” Damodar Prasad Sharma, pres­i­dent of the Ram Leela Com­mit­tee, told the In­dian Ex­press news­pa­per.

“Then the po­lice told us that we should not let Nawazud­din par­tic­i­pate and, if at all we do, and there is a prob­lem dur­ing the show, we will have to take re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

“There were just too many peo­ple in the au­di­ence – we couldn’t have con­trolled the crowds in case of a ruckus,” Sharma added.

The Times of In­dia quoted lo­cal Shiv Sena of­fi­cial Mukesh Sharma as say­ing, “In the 50-60 year his­tory of the Bud­hana Ram­leela, no Mus­lim artist has set foot on the stage. We couldn’t al­low that now. It’s about tra­di­tion.”

The Press Trust of In­dia said the per­for­mance had been can­celled while Sid­diqui took to Twit­ter to ex­press his dis­ap­point­ment.

“My child­hood dream could not come true, but will def­i­nitely be a part of Ram­leela next year,” he tweeted late on Oc­to­ber 6.

Ramlila – mean­ing “Rama’s play” – re-en­acts the life of Lord Ram over sev­eral nights, cul­mi­nat­ing in his de­feat of a wicked king, a vic­tory sym­bol­is­ing the tri­umph of good over evil in Hindu mythol­ogy.

Sup­port­ers of Shiv Sena, which shares power with In­dia’s rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the western state of Ma­ha­rash­tra, is of­ten ac­cused of be­ing anti-Mus­lim and reg­u­larly uses in­tim­i­da­tion tac­tics.

Last year ac­tivists threw ink over the or­gan­iser of the launch in Mum­bai of a book by a for­mer Pak­istani for­eign min­is­ter.

It was also ac­cused of us­ing threats to force the can­cel­la­tion of an ap­pear­ance in Mum­bai by Pak­istani singer Ghu­lam Ali.

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