Actor Anupam Kher fired a salvo at students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) over issues of freedom and nationalism on Friday. His remarks came hours after JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, arrested last month for their involvement in a controversial event in support of terrorist Afzal Guru, were granted bail by a court. The two are yet to be released.
Kher was at JNU as his new film Buddha in a Traffic was being screened at the campus. Kher had earlier alleged that authorities had refused to screen the film at JNU. The university responded by saying he had never made a request - verbal or written - for the film to be screened.
On Friday, addressing a few students in the campus, Kher asked them about patriotism, freedom and nationalism. The actor was greeted by chants of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' as Kher started his speech with, "You want freedom in this nation? Let’s talk about what you need freedom from?"
"You want freedom from hunger? What have you done to remove hunger? What have you done for the development of the nation? What is your contribution? It is easy to criticise," he said, "It’s easy to destroy a building, but it takes years to construct it.”
He went on to criticise those who have used their families as a manipulative tool in their speeches. “You talk about your parents being poor. But if you have spent so many years here (JNU), and studied here (JNU), how are they still poor? What contribution did you make?”
He goes onto reminisce about his past and the contribution he made to his family, while juggling work and studies.
"You are of no use even to your parents. They are still poor. At least change their lives. Study, do politics, but don’t do politics against the nation," he cautioned.
Kher lauded the government at the Centre and said that the current government is a good one. Complimenting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kher said, "Bahut saalo baad desh ko acha Prime Minister mila hai (After a lot of years, the country has got a good Prime Minister).
Supporters of Umar Khalid and Anirban, including JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who was arrested for his alleged participation in the same event, are planning a unity march on the campus on Friday night. "Someone who has returned on bail is not an Olympic hero. People who are out on bail cannot be welcomed back on campus," Kher said.
“I want the focus shifted back from Kranti to Desh Bhakti,” he said, urging students to revive their patriotism.
As expected, Kher ended his speech with 'Bharat mata ki Jai'.
Watch the video here: