'Alarmed' by incidents of intolerance, Mr Perfectionist says his wife fears for their child and is scared to open the newspapers
Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan yesterday joined the chorus of intelligentsia against growing intolerance, saying he has been "alarmed" by a number of incidences and his wife Kiran Rao even suggested that they should probably leave the country.
Aamir Khan speaks at the 8th edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in New Delhi. Pic/PTI
The actor said he also feels that the sense of insecurity and fear has been growing in the past six or eight months. "When I chat with Kiran at home, she says ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day," said Aamir.
"As an individual, as a citizen, we read in the papers what is happening, we see it on the news and certainly, I have been alarmed. I can’t deny," he said while speaking here at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards.
Endorsing the move by scientists, writers and filmmakers to return their awards to register their protest against the atmosphere of growing intolerance, he said for creative people it is important to voice what they feel. "A number of creative people increasingly had a certain feeling in them, which they felt they need to express. For creative people, one of the ways of expressing their dissatisfaction or their disappointment is to return their awards. I think that’s one way of getting your point across," he said.
When asked whether he endorsed the protests by the people, Aamir said he would as long as it is non-violent as "all individuals have a right to protest and they can protest in any manner that they feel is right as long as they are not taking the law into their hands."
The actor said for any society, it is important to have a sense of security and sense of justice. Taking potshots at politicians, he said, "...People who are our elected representatives, who we select to look after us for five years, state or Centre... when people take the law into their hands, we look upon these people to take a strong stance, to make a strong statement, speed up the legal process. When we see that happening there is a sense of security but when we don’t see that happening there is a sense of insecurity."
Aamir criticised over 'intolerance' comment in 'Incredible' India
Criticising Bollywood actor-producer Aamir Khan for his views on 'rising intolerance' in the country, film fraternity members Anupam Kher, Ram Gopal Varma and Ashoke Pandit have said as a widely followed superstar, he must spread hope and not fear.
The celebrities took to Twitter to share their opinion on Aamir's statement that his wife and filmmaker Kiran Rao feared for their son's safety and that she once asked if they should leave India.
Anupam Kher, who earlier this month, led a march to protest against a section of artistes who had been returning their awards over 'intolerance' in the country, questioned Aamir if he had asked Kiran "which country would she like to move out to".
"Did you tell her that this country has made you Aamir Khan," the veteran actor, who has worked with Aamir in films like "Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin", "Dil" and "Rang De Basanti", tweeted.
He added: "Dear @aamir_khan. Did you tell Kiran that you have lived through more worse times in this country and but you never thought of moving out... When did 'Incredible India' become 'Intolerant India' for you? Only in the last seven to eight months? #AtithiDevoBhavah."
Aamir, in 2008, was appointed to endorse the Ministry of Tourism's Incredible India campaign.
Thus, Anupam also questioned Aamir that "presumed (the) country has become intolerant, what do you suggest to millions of Indians? Leave India? Or wait till regime changes?"
He also asked the "Satyamev Jayate" host that while on the show, "you talked about evil practices, but gave hope. So even in 'Intolerant' times you need to spread hope not fear".
Even Ram Gopal Varma came forward to question that when "Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman -- the three biggest stars of the Hindu country India are Muslims, I don't understand where intolerance is?"
"In a predominantly Hindu country, if three Muslims can become the biggest iconic superstars, that itself proves the majority aren't intolerant. Some celebs complaining about intolerance should be the last ones to complain because they became celebs in a so-called intolerant country," he added.
While stressing that "isolated incidents can't be taken as sign of intolerance", Varma also mentioned that "it's the celebs' need for creating drawing room debates to increase their popularity which flares up non existent negativity between communities."
Veteran actor Paresh Rawal, who starred in "OMG: Oh My God!" which questioned the existence of blind faith in godmen -- much like Aamir's blockbuster "PK" -- commented: "'PK' did rattle the belief of Hindus, but Aamir didn't face the wrath of Hindu or THE MAJORITY... but was superhit and made crores."
Censor board chief Ashoke Pandit made a sarcastic remark, saying: "Now that @aamir_khan also feels we are an #IntolerantNation. Let us now go all out and prove once for all that we are really intolerant.
"Kiran Rao led MAMI (film festival) where India and Indian cinema were celebrated. @aamir_khan is himself a superstar loved and celebrated pan-India. Where is the intolerance?"
There was few names who supported Aamir -- music composer Vishal Dadlani of the Vishal-Shekhar duo, and filmmaker Sanjay Gupta.
He said: "More power to your voice, @aamir_khan Sir! This is OUR country, it belongs to ALL Indians. Not to rabid lunatics from any party/religion. Thanks to Aamir Sir, for speaking against intolerance! Proud to see the giants of film, use their voices for India."
Gupta brought the focus to Aamir's full statement, which the latter made at an awards event in the capital on Monday.
"'That was a disastrous statement for Kiran to make.' Aamir Khan's next line after saying that Kiran wants to leave. Hear the full interview. Those accusing Aamir Khan of being intolerant, please have the tolerance to watch the whole interview. Nowhere does he say he wants to leave India."