Veteran actor Raza Murad is all set to return to Ramlila in Delhi this year and will be seen essaying the role of Kumbhakarna.   While there was an instance last year when the participation of Muslim actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Ramlila in Budhana, Uttar Pradesh, had led to protests, organizers in Delhi have decided to bring on board more Muslim artists to perform at this year’s Ramlila. Recently, organisers of the Luv Kush Ramlila Committee in Delhi announced that they have added more names, like that of magician and illusionist Hasan Kamaal Rizvi, to the line-up of performers for this year, while veteran Muslim actors like Raza Murad, who played raja Janak last year, will continue to be a part of the show.   When Delhi Times caught up with him, Raza Murad said that last year’s instance involving Nawazuddin was very unfortunate. Nawazuddin was roped in by Ramlila organizers in Budhana to play the role of Maaricha but Shiv Sena activists forced the actor to opt out of the play. One of the reasons that the activists gave for the objection was that the actor is a Muslim and that no Muslim has ever taken part in Ramlila in that town. Commenting on the issue, Raza Murad said, “I think our audience is very liberal and tolerant and they have never judged any actor by their religion. Till date, Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman Khan continue to remain the biggest stars in our country. If people would have judged them only by their names or religion, they wouldn’t have been such big stars today. People judge you by your work.” He went on to add, “It’s only a few people who try to spread hatred and look for attention by creating unnecessary controversies. I think stopping any Muslim artist from performing at Ramlila is a cheap gimmick to gain publicity.”   Listing the names of Muslim actors who have been a part of mythological shows and films, he said, “In Mahabharat produced by BR Chopra, the role of Kunti was played by Muslim actress Nazneen. Sanjay Khan directed TV series Jai Hanuman. Zarina Wahab played Radha in one of the films. There are several other instances. Take for example the bhajan, Man Tarpat Hai Hari Darshan Ko Aaj. It was written by Shakeel Badayuni, its music was composed by Naushad and it was sung by Mohammed Rafi – so three Muslims created one bhajan. Whereas, Lata Mangeshkar sang the song, Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye Sarkar-e- Madina. So like I said, the audience is concerned only about work.”   Murad added that since he had spent his childhood in Rampur, UP, and later travelled to other parts of the state, he knows the state as a place that respects every culture, tradition and religion. He said, “My upbringing in Rampur has contributed a lot to what I am today. I have studied in Rampur till class V, and in school, I was taught both Urdu and Hindi. I learnt English later in life. As kids, we were taught to respect every religion and tradition.”   The Times  of  India : 31st. May,17


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