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Bollywood and Islamophobia – A Bitter Combination

Bollywood has been constantly twisting history to present Muslim leaders as monsters and savages.

You know what sells most in Bollywood beside entertainment? It’s islamophobia. It certainly is not a new trend and has been prevalent in the industry since decades. You might question the realism of this statement but that might be your privilege talking. As a Muslim, being brought up in the allure of Bollywood, my experience with Bollywood might differ from that of yours. We have seen the gradual progression of islamophobia in Bollywood over the years.

There’s a running joke in Muslim households on how Bollywood has been presenting a character as Muslim. Eyes full of kohl, tabeez around neck like a choker, these characters are either given very insignificant roles or that of an antagonist. Bollywood has a big hand in creating stereotypes of Muslims. They don’t consider it important enough to research about the character and just go with the incorrect representation. Over the years, they have fabricated many aspects of the religion, constantly showing it in a negative light.

Bollywood loves a terrorist plot. It’s the easiest and most far reaching way to dehumanize Muslims. Nothing, absolutely nothing sells more than Hate. People who hate or are against a particular community, when come across a movie targeting the same community, they are immediately attracted to it. Movies like this gives their hate a validation, a platform, a medium. Not only these movies spread hate among people, it also harms the image of the religion by giving false information and incorrect accusation. These spiteful and moneygrubbing film makers go along after making money leaving us answerable for the wrongdoings of the antagonist, however untrue and distorted it may be.

Historical movies are Bollywood’s latest trend in Islamophobic category. They keep coming up with narratives that shows Muslim rulers as barbaric, who gnaws on raw meat which was oh so graciously shown in movie ‘Padmaavat’. Ranveer Singh played the role of the emperor Alauddin Khilji.  Bhansali’s crude representation of the emperor is everything that’s wrong with Bollywood and its habit of distorting history to their likeness. Bollywood has been constantly twisting history to present Muslim leaders as monsters and savages. Another recent period film to follow in the trend of misrepresenting Muslim leaders is ‘Panipat’. Sanjay Dutt’s portrayal of Ahmad Shah Abdali has faced a lot controversy. Ahmad Shah Abdali, who was the founder of the Durrani empire, is a hero to the afghans. The gross misrepresentation of the emperor has outraged the Afghans, who are now demanding a review of the film.

With everything that has been said up until now, it should be very clear that if you are fascinated by history and want to learn more about it, it’s safe if you look into authentic books rather than rely on a Bollywood film.

Every time movies like these are made, we have to mentally prepare ourselves for the constant questions like what was shown in the film, was it true? Do we practice it? Do we condemn it? We are left to defend our religion against the wrongful and hateful accusation. All because an Islamophobic filmmaker with pre formed judgement about Islam decided to use a massive platform like Bollywood to showcase his disdain for Muslims rather than using it for more legitimate issues and addressing the need of the hour. Due to these repeated misrepresentation, People’s knowledge about Islam and Muslims has become one-fold. They think every Muslim is a terrorist and the only good thing about them is biryani, which is a growing stereotype in India I might add.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.

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