Shabana Azmi
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Shabana: We become easy targets

Shabana Azmi

By HT

Mumbai, Jan. 11 -- Veteran actor Shabana Azmi says there's a "massive backlash" whenever anyone from the film fraternity voices their opinion.

"We become easy targets because a lot of money is riding on us, and everyone wants to criticise our opinions. It is so strong and so out of proportion that it is essentially telling all of us to shut up; it is discouraging us from speaking our minds," she says.

Calling the recent incidents, where Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan had to face flak for their comments on the growing levels of intolerance in India, "unfair", Shabana stresses that those in the film industry, too, are Indian citizens, with the right to speech.

"Before film stars or celebrities, we are firstly and more importantly citizens of this country. So, like others, we too have the right to an opinion," says Shabana, adding that social media has only made the situation worse.

"Film stars are in bigger trouble, since every word they say is dissected and debated upon. I have been called an anti-national, a terrorist and so many other things in the past. That has never deterred me from saying anything. But now, the moment they (celebrities) say anything, people immediately latch on to the comments and start shaming them," says the 65-year-old.

"In a society, which is as pluralistic as ours, there will be always be a difference of opinion and that's what a democracy is all about. So, we need to exercise caution and learn to respect others who might not think like us," adds Shabana.