Naseeruddin Shah has been one of the few from the Bollywood industry who does not shy away from speaking his mind. In an exclusive video interview with a noted Bollywood web portal, Shah shared his views on Mughals being demonized by people from the ruling party and their supporters.
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 color and to claim that they looted the country, destroyed temples, they did this and that, and had many wives. Every king does this.”
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 of 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 touched upon the stories of the barbarism of Babur and Humayun being peddled. Speaking about Humayun, Shah said, “Poor guy was an opium addict who fell down the steps when he was probably too stoned one day (laughs). And Akbar did this. And Aurangzeb, of course, the biggest villain of them all. They don’t talk of the other dynasties that were here before. Even before the Mughal dynasty, there were several dynasties of the Turks.”
Shah added that it is wrong to state that the Mughals came to India to take away its riches. “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.
When asked why has always been rebellious, Shah said, “I think so (laughs). I rebelled against my father and 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.”