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‘Tear down Taj Mahal, Red Fort if all Mughals did was evil’: Naseeruddin Shah says Mughals should not be celebrated but should not be vilified MIGMG News

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There is no room for healthy debate in the country, which is why actor Naseeruddin Shah says those who usually oppose his views will never understand his point of view. What thrives in the absence of logic or informed history is hatred and misinformation, which is perhaps why parts of India now seem to blame it all on the past, specifically the Mughal Empire, which amuses the Shah more than it angers him.

In recent years, the Mughal era has been repeatedly maligned by ministers of the ruling government. From a demand to change 40 villages with ‘Mughal era’ names to renaming the historic Mughal gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan to ‘Amrit Udiyan’, there have been attempts to change history.

In a time of polarization, comes ZEE5’s original series Taj – Divided by Blood, featuring Shah as King Akbar. The play is billed as a “revealing tale of the inner workings and succession drama” that played out in the chambers of the Mughal Empire.

Asked how he views a country that seems to believe that everything wrong with it comes from the Mughals, Shah told indianexpress.com, “It amuses me because it’s so funny. I mean, people cannot differentiate between Akbar and a murderous raider like Nader Shah or Babar’s great grandfather Taimur.

“These were people who came here to loot, the Mughals did not come here to loot. They came here to make this their home and they did. Who can deny their contribution?”

The veteran said the idea that the Mughals were the epitome of all evil only showed a lack of understanding of the country’s history. Sure, says Shah, history books may have been too kind to the Mughals to the point of glorifying them at the cost of India’s indigenous culture, but their time in history should not be dismissed as disastrous.

“Of course they are not the only ones. In school, unfortunately, history was mostly about the Mughals or the British. We knew about Lord Hardy, Lord Cornwallis and the Mughal emperors, but we didn’t know about the Gupta dynasty, nor the Maurya dynasty, nor the Vijayanagara empire, the history of the Ajanta caves or the Northeast. We didn’t read any of these things because history was written by the English or the Anglophiles and I think that’s really unfair.

“So what people say is true to some extent, that the Mughals are glorified at the expense of our own indigenous traditions. Maybe that’s true, (But) there’s no need to abuse them either.”

Naseruddin Shah said that if the Mughal empire was so demonic, then why did those who opposed not “tear down” the monuments they had built. “If everything they did was horrible, then demolish the Taj Mahal, demolish the Red Fort, demolish the Qutub Minar. Why we consider the Red Fort sacred, it was built by a Mughal. We should not glorify them, but there is no need to denigrate them either.”

When asked if there is room for intellectual conversation right now, Shah said, “no, absolutely not,” because discourse is at an all-time low.

“Tipu Sultan is defamed!” A man who gave his life to drive out the English. (And now it is said), “Do you want Tipu Sultan or the Aries Temple?” I mean, what kind of logic is this? “I don’t think there is any room for debate because they can never see my point of view and I can never see theirs,” he added.

Earlier in January, while addressing a BJP workers’ convention in Bengaluru, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that in the Karnataka assembly elections, people have to choose between Prime Minister Narendra Modi who built the Ram temple in Ayodhya and developed Kashi, Kedarnath and Badrinath and “those who celebrate Tipu Sultan”.

Produced by Contiloe Digital, Taj – Divided by Blood will see Dharmendra as Sheikh Salim Christie, spanning the reign of King Akbar who is on a quest to find a worthy successor.

The play dramatizes the rise and fall of the generations that follow, showing the beauty and brutality of this great dynasty, their passion for art, poetry and architecture, but at the same time their remarkably cold-blooded decisions regarding their own family, in search of power.

The ensemble cast includes Aditi Rao Hydari as Anarkali, Aashim Gulati as Prince Salim, Taha Shah as Prince Murad, Shubham Kumar Mehra as Prince Daniyal, Sandhya Mridul as Queen Jodha Bai, Zarena Wahab as Queen Salima, Sauraseni Maitra as Mehr un Nisa and Rahul. Bose as Mirza Hakim.

William Borthwick presents The Taj with Simon Fantauzzo as writer and Ronald Scalpelo as director. Taj – Divided by Blood will air on ZEE5 on March 3.


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