Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
A House for Mr Hashmi
When you are a Bollywood actor in Mumbai, doors open automatically — or at least so you would think. But as Shabana Azmi, Aamir Ali and now Emraan Hashmi have discovered, there are some doors which remain shut.
Hashmi has complained to the Minorities Commission of Maharashtra that he and members of his family were not allowed to buy a flat in the posh locality of Bandra — because of his religion.
In his complaint, the actor said he was stopped from completing a purchase of a flat in Bandra’s Pali Hill because the society did not want to allow Muslims.
On the face of it, it seems ridiculous. What’s more, it is illegal.
Abraham Mathai, Vice-Chairman of the state minorities’ commission, told Reuters it would recommend legal action against the building secretary and chairperson if what Hashmi said did happen.
This is not the first time Bollywood is talking about discrimination. Someone as senior and well-respected as Shabana Azmi has spoken about it in the past. Television actor Aamir Ali has also said he found it hard to get a flat in Mumbai.
Unfortunately, this is the first time any one has done anything about this kind of discrimination and Mathai vouches for that.
“I have heard of such cases many times, but this is the first time any one has actually approached us.”
Muslims account for about 14 percent of India’s 1.1 billion people, making them the biggest minority group.
India is officially a secular nation but high-profile success stories of some Indian Muslims may mask their real status. Reinforcing stereotypes about the community, Muslims are targeted after most bomb attacks.
But was Hashmi denied a house because he was Muslim?
The city of Mumbai prides itself on its spirit. It prides itself on its secularism and cosmopolitanism and what could be a better example of those qualities than the thriving entertainment industry?
If public figures cannot escape discrimination, what hope do ordinary mortals have? Did you ever face this problem?