Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was prevented from acting in a Ram Leela programme in his village Budhana in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar by Shiv Sena members. The programme committee compelled him to drop his presence at the function after Shiv Sena members objected to 'a Muslim actor being on stage in the Ram Leela'.
Shiv Sena district head Mukesh Sharma claimed that he had approached the police and asked the committee to withdraw Nawazuddin from participating in the show.
Our objection is to his name as well as the person. His sister-in-law has filed a case against him. He is trying to use this role to get back his social prestige. We will not allow this. For over 50 years, no Muslim has been a part of the production. Why should this be allowed now? We went to the police and our members went around town to spread the word and urge people to stop thisMukesh Sharma
The actor who was in the news this week after his sister-in-law alleged him of assault and dowry harassment, was all set to play the character of Mareech in Ramleela on Wednesday.
The Freaky Ali star who was very much excited about the function has also taken part in the rehearsal. After the news went viral that the critically-acclaimed actor is participating in the Ram Leela, a huge crowd has turned out to see the four-hour performance in Budhana tehsil.
It was Nawaz’s desire to act in Ram Leela and he only insisted the artists to give him a role when they approached him inviting to the event on Tuesday.
People had come to invite me for the Ram Leela and I asked them if I could play a character in it since it was something I had always wanted to do. They offered me the role of Mareech since it was the only one that was to be staged before I had to leave for DelhiNawazuddin Siddiqui
But, on Wednesday, hours before the function was to be staged, a group of Shiv Sena workers came out saying that they will stop Nawaz from acting. The Hindutva group members claimed that no Muslim artist has set foot on the stage in 50-60 years history of the Budhana Ram Leela and they won't allow any breakage of the established traditions.
After Shiv Sena protest, the organisers decided to call off the programme for the night and said that it was the decision of some of the artists whether or not to give him a role in the Ram Leela.
“The committee wasn’t informed in time about Nawazuddin playing Mareech. It was a decision taken by the artists. We got to know only two hours before the performance and before we could request for additional police presence, the protesters reached the spot. We realised that given Budhana is a communally sensitive area, it would not be wise to argue with them. Hence, we decided not to proceed with it,” Damodar Sharma, president of Budhana’s Ramlila Committee, said.
The actor was seen very disappointed by the move. He, during the preparation of the function had said that he had informed many of his friends and family about his role in the programme.
All day, my family and friends had been texting all our acquaintances in town and everyone is very excited to see me act. Everyone has come. For me, it is special because it is the first time I will be acting in my hometown. That was a desire I had since I was a kidNawazuddin Siddiqui
When the actor was asked why performing in Ram Leela meant so much to him, the Badlapur actor said:
“When I was growing up here, there was a boy named Madan who used to play Ram in the local Ramlila. Even though he was my age, we all used to respect him because of the aura around him, since he was Ram. I used to be fascinated by that. Toh tab se hi khwahish thi ki mujhe bhi Ramlila mein perform karna hai.”