Much has been written about actors Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah’s love story. The two, who first met each other during the rehearsal of Satyadev Dubey’s play ‘Sambhog se Sanyas Tak’ in 1975, have been married for 41 years. Recently, Naseeruddin Shah penned an open letter in the National Herald, in which he candidly shared the story of their interfaith marriage and voiced his disappointment over the current political climate that has raised unwarranted questions about his marriage.
Reflecting on his bond with Ratna, he expressed his dismay at being questioned after decades of companionship. He wrote, “I had no compunctions or hesitation about marrying a Hindu, and vice-versa. I didn’t dream that some put-out-to-pasture spouse of an ex-cabinet minister would, 38 years after my marriage, threaten me with ‘no one said anything when you married outside your religion’, stopping short of accusing me of love jihad but clearly implying that my time was now up.”
Shah also opened up on the subject on his wife’s faith and how his mother approved of Ratna not converting to Islam. He wrote, ” As it happened, the subject of my wife Ratna converting to Islam was brought up just once by my mother and that as enquiry, to which on receiving a reply in the negative, she concurred with a “Haan, mazhab kaise badla jaa sakta hai (Yes, how can faith be changed)”. Whether this statement of a woman weaned exclusively on a diet of the Quran makes more sense than the hate-filled rhetoric of ‘Hindus and Muslims cannot live together’, I will leave to the judgement of the reader.”
The Masoom actor also emphasised that his and Ratna’s union is the proof that Hindus and Muslims can live together. “All I can say is that my union (accepted unquestioningly by both families) with a Hindu woman for 40 years so far is proof— if proof were needed—that it is not only possible but desirable for Hindus and Muslims to live together. So, from where did this poison appear? Or were the seeds of hatred planted during Partition slowly germinating all that while?,” he wrote.
In his earlier interview, Shah had revealed that Ratna’s family was against their marriage not because of his religion, but because they thought he was an ‘ill-tempered drug addict.’ Writing about his equation with Ratna’s family, he revealed that before their marriage an elder member of the family assured him that they won’t face any religious or political problems. Instead, the problems that are likely to arise will be of social nature. For instance, ‘soes Diwali have more significance than Eid, will alcohol be permitted in the home, what religious upbringing will the children have.’
Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah started dating soon after meeting for the first time in 1975. After being in a relationship for seven long years, they married in 1982. The couple are parents to Vivaan Shah and Imaad Shah.
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