I am an empowered and now even a privileged  Muslim: Zeeshan Ayyub

The  Enormously Talented Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub Plays A Muslim Wrongly Accused Of  Terrorism In  Sameer. In A  Frank Interview With Subhash K Jha  Ayyub Speaks on What It Means  To Be A Muslim In India Today.

In your new film Sameer  you play a Muslim engineer student wrongly accused of  terrorism. How did you react to the part when it was offered to you?

I think it was more about what the film was trying to say rather than only my character. But still, I felt a bit of reluctance as people start looking at your name  and  thereafter your religion, when you do a character in a political film. But then I thought if I am clear in my head and heart about why I am  doing a  role,then I should not care.

A lot of Indian Muslims feel gagged cornered and pushed  in the current political scenario of the  country. Do you feel they are justified in their apprehensions?

I think the overall scenario is definitely disturbing in many ways. The whole game of ‘Shakti pradarshan’ from all the segments is a serious issue. So the polarity being engineered  by  vested  interests is making everyone a bit apprehensive.

In  your new film Sameer the ATS is shown to randomly pick up suspects  of terror activities and torture them. Would you say this is an accurate portrait of the situation?

We have seen many cases where innocent people have been wrongly suspected of terrorism and then after many years of trial they are proven not guilty.But by then their lives are destroyed. Our film Sameer  focuses on this issue.

As a thinking empowered Indian Muslim , how isolated  or assimilated  do you feel to mainstream India given today’s political scenario?

As you yourself say, I am an empowered and now even a privileged  Muslim, so it’s really easy for me to flow through the disturbing and  chaotic  events around me. But I’ve to confess that even I am  targeted sometimes on my views just because I have a NAME.And I don’t mean  just the Islamic name. But also a name that’s reasonably known.

Our film industry has always been known to be extremely secular and non-discriminatory. Do you feel that to be true even now ?

I think that is something I am really proud of. I’ve never felt discriminated against in my place of work.

Your brilliance as an actor has been repeatedly proven in film after film. Why are you seen playing the hero’s best friend  rather than the hero?

(laughs) I would we should ask this question to the producers and directors. I am playing the  lead in Sameer.So maybe I am now finally being promoted.

Kangana Ranaut recently sparked  off a debate on nepotism in  Bollywood. Would you agree with her that it’s very tough for an outsider to make  it in Bollywood?

Yes, I guess only a blind person can say that there is no nepotism. But it’s still not a hopeless situation. But yes , if you’re an outsider you have to really prove yourself and that too in much harder circumstances. Though we can definitely see a fast and positive change to it.

So far  how has you experience in  Bollywood been? Does it anger you when you have  to play second  fiddle to actors with not  half your talent?

I had a rollercoaster ride, it was great fun. I am very patient person, so I know things will change for good.

Tell me  about  your plans in the near future?

I do not plan anything in my life ,if I do  I will stop enjoying it. I am shooting for Thugs Of Hindostan with Bachchan Saab and AamirKhan, and Aanand  Rai’s next with Shah Rukh. Right now my focus is on  Sameer .As we know it’s a political thriller with a bold statement, which motivated me to sign this film. There are very few people who have the courage to take a stand on a political issue in these vulnerable times.

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