Shiv Sena – Uttar Pradesh on October 6 squashed actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s dream to act in a Ramleela play, when members of the political party in Muzaffarnagar, UP stopped the Ram Leela Committee from letting him participate in the annual play.
According to news reports, just hours before Siddiqui was set to take the stage in Budhana, he was told that he cannot be part of the show.
Further, the stage was already set and people had even started to gather when they learnt that Siddiqui would no longer be performing.
“We were really looking forward to his performance. Over 2,000 people had come here yesterday but a few hours before the show we were told he will not perform.” Dharmendra Goyal, Actor
Actors revealed that Siddiqui had even rehearsed for the play the day before but plans changed at the last minute when few members of Shiv Sena approached the president of the Ram Leela Committee and said that a Muslim man cannot be part of the show.
“A few members of the Shiv Sena didn’t want a Muslim man to play a character in Ram Leela. Then the police told us that we should not let Nawazuddin participate and, if at all we do, and there is a problem during the show, we will have to take responsibility. We were not ready for that, there were just too many people in the audience, we couldn’t have controlled the crowds in case of a ruckus.” – Damodar Prasad Sharma, President Ram Leea Commitee.
Siddiqui, in turn, accepted their decision but refused to comment on Shiv Sena’s intervention…
“Ever since I was a child I wanted to be part of this, even the people in the town were very excited, but around 6 pm yesterday I was told I can’t participate. I accepted the decision.”
Siddiqui hails from Budhana and has been on a vacation in his hometown for past few days. He had gotten in touch with the Ram Leela committee to be part of the production and was thus preparing for the play.
— Shamas N Siddiqui (@ShamasSiddiqui) October 5, 2016
But not losing hope, soon after the ruckus, Siddiqui sent out a tweet that said…
My childhood dream could not come true, but will definitely be a part of Ramleela next year.
Check the rehearsals. pic.twitter.com/euOYSgsm3F
— Nawazuddin Siddiqui (@Nawazuddin_S) October 6, 2016
Shiv Sena district head Mukesh Sharma though claims that he had approached the committee to drop Nawazuddin as no Muslim as ever been part of the show.
“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 this.”
The Ramleela director though denied Shiv Sena’s claim and said many Muslim members have participated with the crew in the past.
“Over the years, many Muslims have been part of the show, though they may not have acted on stage. They have been part of background crew, sound artists, set designers, musicians etc. Of the Rs 5 lakh needed for the 12-day show, at least Rs 30,000 comes in the form of donations from Muslim families,” – Rajesh Sharma, Director.
The Budhana Ram Leela Committee is said to be over 100 years old and has over 100 people associated with the production each year.