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Films and their anti Muslim themes

Films and their anti Muslim themes
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Following the footprints of Hollywood, Bollywood also exploited the character of Muslims immensely

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Aamir Altaf

Hollywood has a very narrow view of Muslims. Every Muslim charters you’ve ever seen on screen , think of how those charters are usually inherently connected to violence and US’s national security. The aftermath of 9/11 brought an alteration in portrayal of Muslims in Hollywood as compare to prior 9/11.

The Image of Muslims and Islam is no longer as unproblematic as they used to be and this is highly related to the role of 9/11 violent attacks. Islam was misrepresented and portrayed as not a religion of peace but as a religion of terror and terrorism.

After 9/11, 75% of media coverage in West and America was about Islam and almost 60 percent of the media content was negative.

Following the footprints of Hollywood, Bollywood also exploited the character of Muslims immensely by portraying them as terrorists. Generally, many movies were made on this subject to portray the Muslims as villain and being presented as extremists, terrorists and dangerous people not only for India but for the whole world.

In Bollywood, Muslims are shown as traitors, terrorists, disloyal, and cruel people. Muslims have been portrayed negatively in Bollywood since 9/11. But this trend incalculably increased after 26/11 attacks. After that incident, Muslims are stared as suspicious people depicted as terrorists and adversary for society in Indian media especially in Bollywood movies.

After the incident of 26/11, Bollywood Movies are consistently trying to inject the people against Islam and Muslims and to make this more effective it is using super stars in anti-Islam movies. Not only super stars but Muslims super stars are also being used by Bollywood in portraying Muslims adversary for society.

Bollywood has now become the world’s largest film industry in producing films having international audience. It plays an important role in building public opinion. At the same time, it becomes a primary source to understand Islam and Muslims at national and International level. Many Block buster movies of Bollywood are exported to UK, USA with their subtitle prints. The reviews of Bollywood movies are now circulated in “New York Times “and “Washington post”.

It was movie “Kurbaan” in which Saif Ali Khan played a lead role and was involved in a terrorist group which planned to attack the US. Then there was movie “Sarfarosh” where a famed Pakistani vocalist Gulfam Hasan ( Naseeruddin Shah) perpetuates and encourages the spread of terrorism in India . Likewise is the movie ‘Fanna’, where Amir Khan plays a role of terrorist named Rehan.

The biggest hit of Bollywood in 2018, Padmavat which had faced much fire for different reasons altogether, portrays luscious, Muslim ruler totally drowned in his pride and evil plans, that sees women with most lustful eyes, oppress his wife and chomps chunk of meat from his teeth . This representation and pushing of a certain narrative of Islamophobia by showing how cruel the evil and enemy Muslim rulers were, paints a certain Islamophobic pictures and echoes for stereotyping and further marginalisation of Muslims today.

The recently released film “Tanhaji” has traces of this pattern where the enemy and the hero have what ‘Meghnadbose’ in the Quint Article calls “ Black and white personification “The devil Khol-eyed lustful man who dances with use of black theme and colour palette as if the sun never rises in their side while the white side having bright, bloomy days full of pride and no one can do any wrong in the land . The use of semiotics to present a kind of narrative is what is trending.

The twisting of history to suit the narrative that you want to put forward again crystallises in the minds of viewers and creates a sense of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ in daily lives as well. As rightly said ‘ Raazi” Portrays a dignified and clear story without a narrative of a villain or a hero but it is clear who is the enemy. The husband Vicky Kaushal, a Pakistani officer doesn’t fit into the evil, devilish, khol-eyed maniac trend of portraying a Muslim man.

Some other movies that portray Muslims in bad light are wanted, Baby, Kalank, Gangs of Wasappur, Gaddar, Mission Kashmir, Jaal I Indian, Border, Qayamat and Zameen. There are others also because Indian cinema is replete with movies where antagonist’s are Muslims and war mongers.

The negative portrayal of Muslim characters is more than twice of positive percentage. Bollywood represent Muslim characters adverse for society. As results prove that Muslim characters in Bollywood, are involved in such activities which are harmful and dangerous for society. More, over religious practices of Muslims are also misrepresented and misused by Bollywood. Muslims are portrayed as negative then it dominantly relate their adverse activities with Islam. Those Muslim characters that are negatively portrayed they are sometimes conservative and sometimes modern.

A positive Muslim character is always portrayed as modern. It seldom happens that any positive Muslim character is imaged as conservative. It is examined by the appearance and dressing portrayal of Muslim characters in Bollywood. Muslim character in Bollywood has duality regarding to their profession and activities. They have negative activities mostly unexposed which depict that they are negative in real but posed themselves positive by adapting non-adversary and genuine profession which aid them to represent modern apparently.

Bollywood has become a global communication medium and its representation is valuable in East as well as in West. Bollywood is playing a negative role in damaging the image of Islam and Muslims through such kind of portrayal.

(The Author is a graduate from Aligarh Muslim university. He can be reached at [email protected])


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