Veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar and director Mahesh Bhatt addressed criticism of the Modi government and rising Islamophobia in India, and the situation in Kashmir post the abrogation of Article 370 on a recent appearance on Al Jazeera show UpFront.
In a teaser clip shared by journalist Mehdi Hasan, Javed Akhtar was asked whether he considered Narendra Modi a facist. To which he replied,
"“Of course he is. I mean, facists don’t have horns on their heads. Facist is thinking and this thinking that we are better than others and whatever problems we have, it is because of these people. The moment you hate people in wholesale, you’re a facist." - Javed Akhtar, Lyricist
For this Friday's @AJUpFront, I asked @Javedakhtarjadu and @MaheshNBhatt, two of the biggest names in Bollywood, whether Narendra Modi is a fascist and why their fellow industry members have been so silent in the face of growing intolerance - preview clip:pic.twitter.com/E1hL3U5gKl— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) February 13, 2020
When asked about the rising anti-Muslim sentiment in India, Mahesh Bhatt said he felt it was being "manufactured", helped in part by a "pliable" media.
"“Well, I think Islamophobia - the winds of Islamophobia - blew through the world after 9/11. I think the phobia here is manufactured because I don’t think that the average Indian is so frightened of a Muslim. I mean that kind of fear has been crafted, been structured day in and day out, media persons go out there, the pliable channels are working around the clock to create ‘the other’. They need ‘the other’ to stay in power. And to hate the Muslim is the lifeline of the BJP. Let’s not mince our words.”" - Mahesh Bhatt, Director
Javed Akhtar and Mahesh Bhatt are among the handful of Bollywood celebrities who have come out strongly against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and condemned incidents of police violence against anti-CAA protesters, especially students of Jamia Millia Islamia University, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Aligarh Muslim University.
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