Bollywood, or the Hindi film industry of India which produces almost 1000 films every year is the world’s largest film industry showcasing various lives in different themes like comedy, horror, drama, action, romance and thrillers.
However, there has been a marked shift in the representation of Indian films in past few years.There is notable change too in the selection of presidents of Film and Television Institute of India, which is fully aided by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
The Indian film industry has become more hate oriented, twisting historical facts and presentation of wrong views with justifying characters and roles in the last few years.
The issue of film Padmavat was very curious. Even before the film was released there were protests, even without witnessing the film. It was said that the film was an insult to Rajput honour. But those who watched it know well that there was no such thing but in fact showed the Rajputs in high honour and complete degeneration of Muslim rulers presenting King Allauddin Khilji as a barbarian, running after women and devoid of culture. While historical accounts tell us that he was a cultured king, who not only built Hauz Khas but also streamlined the market mechanism of trade in Delhi.The film was based on a novel, a fiction, Padmavat. Padmavati was not a historical character but she was a creation of fiction. However, the movie brought so much life in her character that the audience failed to realize her fictional existence in the movie and were left to leave the theaters with her memories as an ‘Abla Nari’ who was target of a Muslim ruler.
Movie Kesari very tactfully overlooks the real enemy British and presents those in their service as heros and highlights on Afghans as the enemies who in fact were fighting for their freedom. As the Durand Line to demarcate the border between British India and Afghanistan was created in 1893, dividing the Pashtun heartland, there was discontent among the tribes whose homeland was divided. For this, the British sent military expeditions to quell the tribal rebellion which later took shape of battle of Saragarhi in 1897. But this incident is featured as a communal war in the film with the title Kesari (saffron) suiting much to the satisfaction of present popularized ideology. Scenes, weaved in before and during the war, only heighten the contrast between two communities and send out a deeply polarizing message at a difficult time in global politics, where majoritarian forces are ripping apart our secular fabric.
Featuring movies on indo –Pak relations and enhancing anti- Pakistani sentiments among Indians to further create tensions between the two countries was common in the Indian film industry, but in recent months has become extremely denigrating and affronting for Muslims in India. Sarabjit, Ghazi attack, URI, Romeo Akbar Walter are few to pen down. Though the movies are featured on true incidents, the scenes, action, dialogues and even the story are drastically twisted in such a manner that the movie turns out to be a sole witness of the incident hypnotizing the audience and leaving a negative impact on them.
Agony is that our Indian army is very well presented in movies and excellent tribute offered to them but there is much difference between their real life and reel life which never comes to limelight or nobody dares to present in the movies.
Another change in the film industry in the recent years is open criticism of opposition government by means of movies like Indo Sarkar and Accidental Prime Minister. Indu Sarkar again a fictional character with very well framed name is shown as a victim of emergency during Indira Gandhi’s period. While accidental prime minister too claims to be a ‘dramatised’ and ‘fictionalised’ version of the author Baru’s book which includes certain moments that — wittingly or unwittingly – tend to support a particular political narrative.
In new releases we have Kalank- yet another blot on the image of Muslims. The film though a fictional love story is featured from communal angle relating it to pre-independence period, partition time and fictional place putting the sole blame of partition on Muslims and carrying out blood-curdling violence by them.The movie bags the question “Did people actually behave like this back then?”
Some might think they are just movies and do not need much attention and so let it go. But the truth is that Bollywood films are watched by millions of impressionable people both in India and abroad. Their popularity creates a moral obligation on filmmakers to act responsibly. Hence the responsibility lies on the film makers and actors to not let feelings of hate and divisiveness spread through movies. Also the audience needs to act in responsible manner to check the ground realities behind each film to make any view regarding it. Today, when our world is threatened by extremism and misogyny, cinema can be an effective instrument for promoting social cohesion and not to intensify communal discord.