recently got an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. Speaking with Mohammed
Wajihuddin, Aagha discussed why, despite being born in Karachi, she wants
an Indian identity, why she supports PM Modi and opposes triple Talaq – and why
she blames the Pakistani authorities for the shocking murder of Sufi singer
you react to Sufi Qawwal Amjad Sabri’s murder in Karachi?
death of Amjad Sabri, an artiste who gave so much to music, is shameful for
Pakistan. He memorably sang the famous Qawwali ‘Bhardo Jholi Meri Ya Muhammad,
Tere Dar Se Na Jaoonga Khali’ – but what has Pakistan given him? Bullets in
He was a
man who did so much social work for the poor and who reportedly asked for
security but was denied it – shame on the Pakistani authorities for treating
artistes like this.
growing Talibanisation of Pakistani society stunting art and creativity?
over 15 years since I did a film in Pakistan, so I’ve not really tracked the
art scene there.
thing is clear – nowhere do art and artistes get so much respect as in India.
Here, creative people are worshipped. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan settled here. Ghulam
Ali commands so much respect among Indians. Rahat Fatah Ali Khan is much in
This is a
country where art is valued – and artistes prosper.
difficult was securing an Overseas Citizen of India status, given your own
Well, if I
connect it with the film Nikaah I’m best known for, a Nikaah is better than a
live-in relationship. Now, you can say i am officially wedded to India – though
India has never been foreign to me.
me hassle-free visits and only cements my bond with India. The bond goes back
generations – my maternal grandfather, Jugal Kishore Mehra, who starred in the
first Heer Ranjha (1932), had adopted my mother Nasreen. Mehra’s sister was
Prithviraj Kapoor’s mother. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents were
to say i am of Pakistani origin – i was born in Karachi but that happened
because at that time, my parents happened to be there.
I hold a
British passport – but India has always been a home. Even today, i stay in my
mother’s house in Mumbai.
hold a British passport and earned some respect due to my creative work, i
received OCI status easily. Many people, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh
and MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju, cooperated.
you analyse Narendra Modi’s administration – and talk of intolerance in India?
Modi is leading from the front. He is a leader with immense energy and
commitment to his people. My daughter and i heard him speak in Afghanistan and
the US Congress – that he’s a brilliant orator was never in doubt but with his
recent speeches, he’s proved he believes in inclusion.
for him also grew after i saw the initiatives he’s taken for citizens –
especially the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign.
is very tolerant. I have never felt insecure here.
admiration may be construed as opportunism – especially from certain Muslims
who criticise Modi for not cracking down on Hindutva zealots.
is the best country on earth for Muslims.
multiculturalism is the biggest bulwark against communal divides. Muslims in
other countries are killing their co-religionists – here, they live in relative
harmony. There is hardly any Shia-Sunni rioting in India.
must avoid confrontations and avail the opportunities which are there for those
who grab them.
confrontation is the current debate on triple Talaq, an issue highlighted in
your 1982 movie Nikaah – is it time to now stop instant divorce?
a path-breaking film, much ahead of its time – cases were filed and attempts
made to stall its release. Director B R Chopra had to change its original title
Talaq, Talaq, Talaq under pressure from Muslim outfits.
Talaq is un-Islamic in that it’s not sanctioned by the Quran – it’s a way to
perpetuate patriarchy where men want to control women.
personally suffered divorce and know how painful it is. I often think, if my
religion gives so much dignity to women, why do men deny women their rights?
made their own rules – and pass them off as God-given.