Leftist celebrities are not often gifted with the deepest of insights. Oftentimes they propagate secular views to reinforce the leftist, holier-than-thou image that they feel is fashionable and separates them from what they condescendingly view as the “underclass”. This is particularly prevalent in the US where causes such as “Islamophobia” are zealously adopted to appear sincere, humane and in lockstep with the kinder, gentler folk among the populace.
Bollywood, the world’s biggest film industry, is not immune to such pandering to lofty aims. Certain actors within it conveniently parrot orthodoxies that completely skew historical fact within the prism of their own deluded minds. The latest comment by a major actor there was that the Mughal invaders of India did not really perpetrate atrocities against the native population, that they weren’t tyrants, that they gifted their captured subjects with dancing, music, painting and that they could even be classed as refugees. This comment by the actor has drawn worldwide derision, particularly in India.
The actor offering this disturbing revision of history is Naseeruddin Shah — who is well known in Bollywood films for over forty years and has occasionally popped up in Western movies here and there. He’s starred in movies with Maggie Gylenhaal, Stellan Skarsgård, and even the legendary Sean Connery. He belongs to that veteran pantheon of Bollywood actors who, like a De Niro or Robert Redford, think that they know more than the humble folk simply because they’re wealthier and move in circles of lobbyists and elite parties that give them the space to spout off on history, culture and politics.
Shah’s latest crude revision of history is in tune with that of many celebrities, especially in India, who believe that the Mughal invaders were benevolent, cultured, kind, and actually were in need of assistance and refuge in an unwashed, uneducated India that needed them. A clip of Naseeruddin Shah’s interview with one Karan Thapar is now going viral on the internet. In the 33-seconds long clip, Shah expresses dismay and anguish over people constantly belittling Islamic rule in India as a bad thing.
He describes the Mughals’ atrocities as ‘so-called atrocities’ and makes it clear he doesn’t even believe that the Mughals were tyrants. Shah is of the opinion that Mughals consolidated India with their ‘contribution’. He cites Mughals’ dancing, music, painting, and literature as evidence of all the wonderful things they brought to India and that they were actually hard done by because they left their original Arabian homelands to make new homes in a foreign land. As if invasion by loot, plunder, rape, extortion, bribery, slaughter, and bloodshed was an inconvenience to them in claiming asylum. The full statement of Shah reads,
The so-called atrocities of the Mughals are being highlighted all the time. We forget that Mughals are people who have contributed immensely to the country. They are people who have left lasting monuments in the country…who have left traditions of dancing, music, painting, and literature. Mughals came here to make this their homeland. You can call them refugees if you like.
Only within the vapid, empty-headed environments of Hollywood and Bollywood could celebrities spout such erroneous revisionist claptrap. It is a well-established fact that Mughals were raiders who survived on looting territories. Their whole existence was based on genocides of the local population of the area they raided. They murdered Hindus if they refused to convert to Islam, leaving those behind to pay a heavy Jizya tax simply to survive. Their last known tyrant, Aurangzeb, is particularly infamous for this. Refugees are those who are stateless, not those whose hobbies revolve around invading other countries and their cultures.
Indeed, the Indian historian Professor K.S. Lal estimates that the Hindu population in India decreased by 80 million between 1000 AD and 1525 AD, an extermination that is simply unparalleled in world history. This slaughter occurred over regular periods during many centuries of Arab, Afghan, Turkish and Mughal rule in India. Given how the modern world, including India, continues to face threats from organizations and groups of terrorists such as ISIS, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda, it is remarkable that rich celebrities can so conveniently whitewash an Islamic ideology similar to that of the perpetrators of the holocaust in India.
Shah, and celebrities like him, should always have their ignorant opinions challenged. They exist in a world populated by woke pressure groups and leftist think tanks that constantly seek to revise history, and given the huge platforms they are privileged to possess, they have a responsibility not to skewer the truth. As long as populaces arm themselves with knowledge and an understanding of real history, then the fantasy worldview of these celebrities will have no power to indoctrinate others.
Saurav Dutt is a TIME magazine featured author and political analyst. His commentary has been featured on Republic TV and The Festival of Bharat series, as well as CNN, Newsweek, VICE and Esquire.