Intolerance is not new to Sanjay Suri, who tasted the bitter pill during the ethnic cleansing in Kashmir and says that what bothers him is that it still persists.
“I have been a victim of intolerance of a different kind. During the entire ethnic cleansing in Kashmir, my father was killed and we had to eventually leave Kashmir,” the actor says.
The actor spent 19 years of his life in Kashmir and was fond of nature and outdoor activities. As a child, Sanjay was a squash player and he used to play for his school and the state teams. In 1990, his father was killed in a terrorist attack and the family was forced to flee to Jammu where they briefly lived in a refugee camp after which they shifted to Delhi.
“Intolerance has been there and it remains there, but the worrying bit is that it still persists, and no one is doing anything about it,” Sanjay told thestatesman.com.
“If there is something that requires immediate attention, nip it in the butt. If action is not taken, it empowers the wrong,” he added.
The actor, who is juggling many roles right now, feels people should have the freedom to speak their mind as the law of the country permits ‘freedom of expression’.
“I believe in the philosophy of ‘live and let live’. If someone is expressing an opinion, you cannot say why the issue wasn’t addressed 10 years ago… It’s the wrong way to look at it.”
“The reactions itself prove that intolerance is there. People are voicing their opinions against intolerance – they feel the sentiment and that’s why they are trying to share it,” he said.
The 44-year-old, who is looking forward to the release of his next film Chauranga on Friday, feels “larger issues” should steal the limelight now.
“If people in power and people at certain positions are making statements, it should be dealt with,” he said.
Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan faced criticism when they expressed their views on intolerance and Sanjay says that such reaction shows the existence of intolerance.
“If someone is thinking aloud, how is it harming anyone? Thousands of people say millions of things in their drawing rooms and even on public platforms!”
“At the end of the day, the rueful response shows how the matter has been blown out of proportion,” he said.
Recalling his early days in Kashmir, Sanjay said: “While growing up in Kashmir, there was not much scope in terms of theatre. After being uprooted from Kashmir, I came to Delhi. Gradually, I realised that all was lost and I should look ahead and aim for Bombay.”
A few years down the lane, Sanjay made his debut in Bollywood with Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. After that, there has been no looking back for the actor, who also tried his hand at modelling, ventured into production and wishes to be a director soon!
Releasing on January 8, Chauranga is his fifth collaboration with producer Onir after My Brother Nikhil (2005), Bas Ek Pal (2006), Sorry Bhai (2008) and I Am (2010).