Posts Tagged ‘Muslim bashing’

Terror in the aisles – By Khalid Mohamed – Hindustan Times

November 25, 2008

Tue,25 Nov 2008


Terror in the aisles

Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times

Email Author
November 24, 2008
First Published: 20:10 IST(24/11/2008)
Last Updated: 00:21 IST(25/11/2008)

Consider this. There would have been no Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), if its director Aditya Chopra had stuck to his resolve ― of narrating a love story about a boy-meets-girl in the midst of communal riots.
Turns out that their families are more incendiary and unreasonable than the rioters during the 1993-94 conflagrations in Mumbai.

Evidently, Chopra discarded his original script because he didn’t want to gamble with an iffy topic at the box office. Moreover, Mani Ratnam was already about to outrace him to the screens withBombay (1995), a sit-on-the-fence account of the riots carnage.

Today, Chopra’s much-vaunted Yash Raj banner is studying white collar terrorism in a film titled New York which has just completed principal shooting in the US. On another plane altogether, with the sleeper successes of Khuda Kay Liye (imported from Pakistan) andA Wednesday, as well as the critical laurels gathered by Aamir andMumbai Meri Jaan, terrorism has become a desirable theme on Bollywood’s storyboard. In addition, Muslims have also been associated with D-Company godsons and god-bhais who squat in dimly lit ghetto interiors designed by Ram Gopal Varma.

Is this what we are? Without attempting to understand the Muslim psyche or why lumpen elements are spawned, screenplays are setting up despicable stereotypes. Muslims in films today, are out to kill in the garb of assassins and assorted bozos who have emerged from a limbo land.

In this, Indian cinema is not alone. The Muslim as the terrorist lunatic is everywhere, be it in a Die Hard blockbuster, giving Bruce Willis a run for his bullets. And the infallibly bearded and shifty Muslim is a staple in every hijack ‘entertainer.’ In the recent rush of Hollywood war movies, the Muslim is by contrast faceless but as dreadful. Although these movies critique the US involvement in the Iraq war, the recalcitrant American soldier is canonised as the war hero. As for the other’s dead? Hopefully they art in heaven, inshallah.

More than any other cinemas of the world, ours has to deal with a multiplicity of communities. Like the Parsis, too often reduced to air-gulping clowns. As for Christians, they are portrayed as ‘Kya bolta hai, men?’ rum guzzlers or are represented by Janet of Fashion who must choose between unhappiness and marrying a gay at a church wedding. None of us has come a long way baby.

Minorities just cannot be heroic. Custom has made it a must for the hero to be a Rahul or a Rohit and the heroine to be a Sapna or Suman. In any case, beyond the same old naming ceremonies, how many of the ‘now’ generation’s film makers are even remotely interested in breaking the norms or in doing something ― anything! ― through a populist medium?

Entertainment, it is presumed, doesn’t gel with purposeful stories. It is argued that mainstream cinema, by its very nature, isn’t realistic or relevant to the conditions around us.

Periodically, demographic statistics have affirmed that the Indian Muslim is the most fervent and passionate filmgoer. In most metropolitan cities, after the Friday afternoon namaaz, sizeable numbers make a beeline for the new movie in town. Lose them and you lose a huge slab of the ticket vote-bank. Indeed, in a bid to appease this section of the audience, there was a time when films would add a sympathetic Chacha Rahim, a qawwal Altaf, or a sacrificial goat who takes the bullet for Hero Rohit at the end.

Today, though, there is something downright crude in the representation of Muslims in the movies. For instance, there was neither head nor tale to the Salman Khan clinker, Tumko Na Bhool Payenge(2002), in which a Muslim gadabout goes amnesiac, is adopted by a Hindu family, retrieves his memory and fetches up at the Haji Ali dargah. If any point was being conveyed it was entirely lost on the audience. Maine Dil Tujhko Diya (2002) exhibited Sanjay Dutt as a Muslim don with a heart of gold; Dutt repeated the act as ‘Iqbal Danger’ in Annarth (2002). Nothing can be done. We have been painted by the bhai brush.

Even in films that are notches above the commonplace, there have been transgressions. Example:Sarfarosh (1999). The bad guy, Naseeruddin Shah, is a ghazal singer from Pakistan. As if to redress the balance, a cop is depicted as a nationalist Muslim victimised by his superiors and by the world at large.

Most filmmakers care a dried fig for what sub-texts and subterranean messages are being bleeped out to an audience that is largely unlettered and impressionable. If Muslim bashing is on, so be it.

Still, any purist (idealistic?) filmmaker will tell you that characters emerge from the plot ― caste, creed and religion no bar. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, brown or white, Hindu, Muslim or Christian. As long as the filmmaker believes in a story, as long as there is conviction that the story must be told, that’s cinema.

Otherwise, you might as well play the anorexic stock market, the loaded roulette or the iffy horse races. Playing with cinema and communities may pay… but for how long and, at whose expense?

Javed Anand’s ideologically driven diatribe against SIMI

August 17, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Javed Anand’s ideologically driven diatribe against SIMI



Of course! It is a question of law



By Ghulam Muhammed



It is one thing to be factually correct. It’s altogether another thing to be ideologically driven. Javed Anand’s diatribe titled: ‘Suspect SIMI? Of course’ — published by The Indian Express, on Saturday, August 16, 2008 seeks life beyond law.


At that level, what is a difference between a religiously driven SIMI and a Leftist fighting a war in the name of Karl Marx, denigrating everything that goes under the umbrella of religion, the supposed ‘opium of the masses’.


If religion is the opium of the masses, anti-religious Marxism too is a heady brew that saps the intellectual faculties of even the most sensible people.


The key sentence that gives out Javed Anand’s subterranean insecurity goes like this: “But is it merely a question of law?”


Of course! It is a question of law.


India as a nation is a legal construct. It is based on law. If you have to find life beyond law, you are on a very shaky territory.


In fact, Javed Anand’s frustration over his gross inability to interpret the law of land by sanctifying the terms ‘secularism and democracy’, in the mould of Marxist logic, while neatly bypassing and ignoring the constitutional fundamental rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech in drawing up a charge-sheet against SIMI, is so apparent, that it is surprising, he is so unaware that his slip is showing.


Secularism in Indian context does not stand for the denial of religion. India is not a replica of the erstwhile Soviet Russia, where the communist dictators had destroyed and/or closed down all churches and mosques. For over seventy years, people of faith had to undergo endless pogroms, purges, banishments, not to mention the ghastly gulag existence. India’s secularism has to be defined by its deeply ingrained religious ethos.


Javed Anand is ready to accommodate Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad, for their support of SIMI, when he writes that ‘Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad’s welcoming of the lifting of the ban on SIMI can be explained away in terms of vote bank politics. Why should he begrudge if mainstream Muslims too have welcomed lifting of the ban on SIMI. Are Muslims not entitled to be part of vote bank politics, just because they are Muslims?


Banning of SIMI, was a motivated political exercise, by the Hindutva extremists/opportunist of the ilk of the then Home Minister, L. K. Advani and the then Maharashtra State home minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, an old Shiv Sena protagonist. It was a grand conspiracy to consolidate Hindu vote bank, around demonizing of Muslims, by choosing a suitable candidate to focus on and by implication demonise the entire 150 million Muslims of India. Evidently, this too would be generously treated by Javed Anand, as merely vote bank politics!


Of course, there were hotheads in SIMI, as there are in every grouping, including the Marxists and the Hindutvadis. But the law cannot be so applied that it cannot stand judicial scrutiny. If on presentation of facts, the court is not convinced that SIMI is guilty as charged, why should Muslims not rejoice in being liberated from the conspiracy of the Hindu extremists?


The real problem for Javed Anand stems from his pretentious posturing of becoming the voice of the Muslims. His frustration at witnessing crowds of 20,000 to 200,000 gathering at public meetings called by religious figures is quite understandable. He fails to understand the real pain of the Muslims. Given proper interaction, even a maverick like Mamta Bannerjee could gather a mind-boggling crowd of 400,000 Muslims in the heart of a cosmopolitan city like Kolkata. But you cannot strip the Muslim of his religious identity and hope to achieve leadership of a neutered crowd.


The very fact, that Indian Express has published Javed Anand’s article denouncing SIMI, is proof enough that he is sleeping with the enemy. Let him write a similar diatribe against RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and get it published in Indian Express, or Times of India, or even in the new avatar of ‘The Hindu’, if he is rooting for non-discriminatory justice. That will show him the limits of his journalistic prowess, if any. His ability to get published by a mainstream English broadsheet on Muslim-bashing shows how far he is treated by the media, as not with the mainstream Muslims. The mainstream media is merely using his mixed Muslim name (Javed Akhtar + Anand) to carry on their commercial commitment to demonizing of Muslims. Muslims would rather be vicitmised than become beholden to dubious benefactors with ulterior motives.  



Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai