“Tolerant India”, Where Irrfan Khan’s Son Babil Worries He’ll Be Labelled Anti-National for His Religion

Social Commentary

“Tolerant India”, Where Irrfan Khan’s Son Babil Worries He’ll Be Labelled Anti-National for His Religion

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

It’s barely been three months since the passing of Irrfan Khan, which was met with an unprecedented outpouring of love – not just from Indian fans of the actor, but also his international peers. Now, his son Babil Khan has taken to social media, to talk about how he feels judged on the basis of his religion. In a series of Instagram stories, the younger Khan claimed that some of his friends had stopped talking to him because he is Muslim, and that he feared being labelled anti national for saying anything critical about those in power.

In one post, Babil Khan stated: “Can’t even post anything about how I feel about the people in power without my whole fucking team telling me that it might end my career. I am scared, I am afraid. I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be judged by my religion. I am not my religion, I am a human being, just like the rest of India.”

Babil Khan also spoke about the cancellation of the Eid holiday, even though Raksha Bandhan would still be celebrated. “Okay no problem, I will just celebrate Eid when it’s not Eid on Saturday,” he said in the post.

In a dispiriting example of how polarised India has become, Khan stated that some of his friends have stopped talking to him because of his religion: “Our beautiful secular India’s sudden relapse of religious divide is honestly getting scary. I have friends that have stopped communicating with me because I am of a certain religion. I miss my friends; my Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, human friends… I love India, don’t you dare call me anti-nationalist. I promise you, I am a boxer, I will break your nose.”

The comments under the post only proved his point, where some Instagram users attempted to dismiss his fears.

What makes Babil’s posts even more poignant is the fact that just a few hours ago, the official Twitter handle of The Academy Awards posted a video compilation titled “A celebration of hope — through the lens of movies we love”. The final frame is Irrfan Khan in the lovely last sequence from The Life of Pi.

The post drew a fair amount of criticism from social media.

Some users pointed out that the way things were, even privileged minorities were not spared communal hatred. What hope is there for the average minority?

Yet others spoke about how wholesome Babil Khan’s online personality is. In recent days, the young man has posted about Sushant Singh Rajput and what an underrated actor he was.

It’s a sad day for India, when the son of India’s best loved actors says that he feels alienated just because he was born in a minority community.