Anupam Kher Responds with Digs to Naseeruddin Shah's Comments Calling Him a 'Clown'

The actor's reply in the form of a Twitter video contains many pointed slams at his industry colleague.

New Delhi: Actor Naseeruddin Shah’s interview to The Wire’s founding editor Sidharth Bhatia has made headlines. One of them, where he referred to actor Anupam Kher as a ‘clown, not to be taken seriously’ has stung the latter, who responded with his own video.

Kher said that since Shah has previously criticised a range of public figures, including Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna, “I am in great company.”

Kher tweeted, along with the video, “My message of love for Mr Naseerudin Shah saab!!! He is older than me in age and in experience. I have always respected his art and will keep respecting it. But sometimes it is very important to give a quick answer to some things. This is my answer.”

Shah, in his interview, spoke on a range of subjects, including the CAA-NRC, the government’s violent crackdown against students and his own Muslim identity.

“…I don’t have a birth certificate, I don’t think I can produce one. I don’t think many people can, so does that mean we’re all going to be excluded? And I do not need any reassurances that Muslims do not need to worry, I’m not worried. If living here 70 years does not prove it and doing whatever I could does not prove me an India, I don’t know what does. I’m not afraid, I’m not anxious – I’m angry that such a law has been imposed on us,” he said.

He also praised Deepika Padukone for turning up at the protests and was critical of superstars for keeping silent in the face of such social turmoil.

In the course of his chat, he also made a passing reference to actor Anupam Kher and those like him, who have visibly and consistently supported the present government, especially on social media.

This is what Shah said:

“Someone like Anupam Kher has been very vocal [on Twitter], I don’t think he needs to be taken seriously. He’s a clown. Any number of his contemporaries from NSD and FTII can attest to his sycophantic nature, it’s in his blood, he can’t help it.”

The interview was published on January 21. Anupam Kher recorded and published a video message the next day in reply to the mention Shah made of him, particularly his calling him a ‘clown’.

Shah is a Muslim and often critical of the rightwing dispensation. Kher’s wife Kirron is a BJP MP, and on news television channels he is known to be supportive of the government.

Kher begins the video by saying “I have not done any particular wrong to you”. That the politics of the day surpasses personal wrongs is lost on Kher.

Also read: What Naseeruddin Shah Said About Protests, Deepika Padukone, Anupam Kher and More

Many of the reports on The Wire’s interview had focused largely on the crux of the talk – the atmosphere of intolerance in the country and the need for protests fuelled by public anger, though the Kher comment too made it to many papers and channels.

Kher also makes a dig at his film industry colleague, saying Shah has lost his ability to know right from wrong due to years of substance abuse.

He also ends the video in some sort of innuendo, in what appears to be a pointed reply at Shah’s note that “sycophancy runs in his blood” with the insistence that “it is Hindustan that flows” in his veins.

Kher also managed to end the video with nary a single mention of the CAA, the peculiar conundrum Indian Muslims have been left in or the students, women and men engaged in protests across the country, which are all issues that Naseeruddin Shah spoke on.

Kher’s cause has since been taken up by ex-governor Swaraj Kaushal, who, among other criticisms of Shah has highlighted the fact that he has married outside his religion and that he is “ungrateful”.