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To let or not to let

By Javed Akhtar | Last Updated: Sunday, August 2, 2009 - 18:56
Javed Akhtar

It once happened that we knew a property agent and Shabana contacted him for investing in a house. He was a nice chap and assured us we will get a house that my wife had liked. Days passed by and he started avoiding the topic and even meeting us. Later, the poor fellow who was embarrassed said in a sheepish tone that the house couldn’t be sold to a Muslim.

That same episode has now got repeated with Emraan Hashmi. It is certainly not in good taste but frankly speaking, I was not surprised. That the posh society denied him the house giving excuse of his on-screen image of a serial kisser is hogwash- no one will officially say ‘Muslims need not apply’.

Such things happen frequently in our cosmopolitan city of Mumbai. It is very sad that this is a widespread phenomena and I am aware of some more A-list celebrities who have had to bear it.

The good thing that Emraan did was speaking out about it- I believe that is the first step towards the solution of this issue that we often brush under the carpet of secularism, saying that it doesn’t exist.

Malice and evil of a society should be openly talked about. Especially in this case, as I know that most people of our country will not agree to such a practice. I have never had to go through any discrimination on the basis of my religion.

But because I have never, thankfully, been a victim of a road accident doesn’t mean that accidents do not occur. And it doesn’t mean we should not work to minimize the mishaps which kill seven people every day on the roads of the national capital- as the Delhi Police revealed the other day.

A house is one of the most cherished dreams of any individual. People of all faiths and culture and beliefs want a roof over their head and they do get it in all parts of the world. Where will the people of other faiths live after all? Not on the footpath if they can afford better things!

Denying a house to a Muslim or to a Christian or a Hindu etc is a stupid communal practice. It is so illogical. Whether a celeb is at its receiving end or not does not matter. In this country- where the Constitution says all are equal- such unjustifiable acts are totally unacceptable.

We, as responsible citizens of a secular nation, should put up a fight against such practices and root them out. Such things should be made a stigma and the persons engaging in it should be isolated.

Housing societies in Mumbai- and elsewhere I am sure- have some weird rules for their residents. There are many societies which put conditions like the residents should be vegetarian. I will tell you a secret- I have been to these societies and have relished the mutton offered by my friends there.

In short, this practice also betrays the basic truth that we are a composite society made of many tastes.

The best example of this assimilation of all cultures, beliefs, lifestyles etc is the industry which has given me everything- the film industry. Within this industry, there is absolutely no discrimination based on any thing under the sun.

People often wonder how this is possible. I will tell you how- it is a result of our search for excellence.

Bollywood has acquired its secular image because it believes in doing good work, in satisfying audiences across all strata of the society and that is of prime importance. We can’t afford to discriminate, you see.

A director, or a producer, or an actor or a writer like me has just one objective in mind- our films, our songs, our promos etc should do really well. Thus, when we work, the only criterion in our mind is skillfulness of a person. We work happily with anyone who has talent.

I know that our country loves our films and swears by them. What I would like our people to really learn from Bollywood- apart from how to dress up well or how to dance or how to woo a girl etc- is the spirit of unity for a purpose which is far above petty perceptions.

Once the people of India have only one objective in mind i.e. making India a superpower, there will not be any space for those who have guts to deny a house for Mr. Hashmi.

First Published: Sunday, August 2, 2009 - 18:56

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