'Javed Akhtar, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi have collectively brought more pride and honour to our country than the entire film fraternity put together.'
'Sir, the names you have taken are institutions, pillars of India's popular art, symbolising the very essence of humanism and nationalism.'
Adarniya Narottam Mishraji,
Greetings to you, Sir, from a die-hard fan of Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Javed Akhtar, three of the most distinguished artistes of our cinema, who have contributed immeasurably to our popular culture, and whom you have recently declared the 'sleeper cells' of the Tukde Tukde gang.
Ministersaab, on hearing these doyens, these incomparable grandmasters of their craft being called out as such, I was reminded of an old Yesudas hit song: Dil ke tukde tukde kar ke muskura ke chal diye.
Sir, you broke our hearts by making these unsubstantiated allegations.
Honourable Minister Sir, I have heard Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Javed Akhtar being called many names, such as 'exceptional', 'brilliant', 'pride of India' and 'harbingers of a progressive society'.
Shekhar Kapur, whom you may know as a film-maker of international repute, once said, and I quote, 'Every time the history of Indian cinema is discussed, Shabana Azmi will be mentioned.'
That seems true of all the three artistes whom you, in all your wisdom, have declared members of the 'Tukde Tukde sleeper cell'.
I have to admit, Honourable Minister, that I had no idea what this Tukde Tukde gang was until it was applied to three of the most venerated artistes of the country.
Correct me if I am wrong, Sir, but this Tukde Tukde gang refers to people in the country, who work against the welfare of our country, who are in essence, anti-national elements, for the want of a better term.
In my humble opinion, Honourable Minister -- and I am sure most right-minded Indians would agree with me -- Javed Akhtar, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi have collectively brought more pride and honour to our country than the entire film fraternity put together.
They represent the core of the talent in Indian cinema. The touchstone of excellence, the yardstick by which we measure all artistic excellence in popular culture.
When we want to tease an aspiring singer, we say, 'Apne aap ko kya samajhti hai, Lata Mangeshkar/Mohammed Rafi?'
When we want to rag an aspiring actor, we say, 'Tu Naseeruddin Shah/Shabana Azmi hai kya?'
Sir, the names you have taken are institutions, pillars of India's popular art, symbolising the very essence of humanism and nationalism.
Shabana Azmi's legendary father, poet-thinker Kaifi Azmi (I am sure you have heard of him, Ministersaab) wrote Kar Chale Hum Fida Jaan-o-Tan Satthiyon Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon for the dying soldiers during the 1962 War.
When Jawaharlal Nehru died, Kaifisaab wrote, Meri Awaaz Suno Pyaar Ka Raaz Suno, which made the nation weep.
Three decades later, Kaifi Azmi's son-in-law Javed Akhtar wrote, Mere Dushman Mere Bhai, an anti-war song so powerful, it makes all battle for supremacy look ridiculous.
Sir, these are artistes many of us hero-worship.
Shabana Azmi is someone I rate next only to Lata Mangeshkar as the symbol of unalloyed artistic excellence.
Tell us, how did you come to the conclusion that my hero is a traitor?
In conclusion, I would like to quote two lines of a timeless tukde tukde poem: Tukde Tukde Din Beeta, Dhajji Dhajji Raat Mili/Jitna Jitna Aanchal Tha Utni Hi Saughaat Mili.
These lines about the ravages of time and destiny is written by another Muslim artiste, Meena Kumari.
I am glad she is not with us. Who knows, she too may have found her way into the Tukde Tukde gang.
Honorable Mr Minister, our cinema was always above narrow cultural and religious differences. What happened?
Subhash K Jha