For decades, India’s establishment — its ruling elite, its bureaucracy, and its media — has been subtly propagating the messages that they felt were congruent with their “idea of India”. But social media is allowing people to peek back in time and share how biased some of these narratives were.
A Twitter account @GemsOfBollywood is now sharing clips from old Bollywood movies that reveal the blatant Hinduphobia that was passed off as entertainment in the films of yesteryear. The account shared a clip from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, in which the lines Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram are remixed and shot with hippies playing guitars, while the lines “Ishwar Allah Tero Naam” are shot with people somberly praying. “How come all buffoonery happens on the lines ‘Raghupathi Raghav Raja Ram’, but when taking Allah’s name, mahaul is suddenly serene and pious,” the account asks.
Hindu customs weren’t only subjected to mockery — even Hindu priests too were stereotyped as being ludicrous and not particularly bright in the movie Padosan, made by Mehmood Ali and NC Sippy.
Some stereotypes were even more sinister. In the movie Ilaaka written by Javed Siddiqui, a man is showing praying to Shiva as he discusses a murder plot.
In the movie Jungbaaz which had dialogues written by Anwar Khan and Nusrat Sayyed, a villain says he worships Goddess Kali, wears black clothes, and kills people.
You worship Kali?
You are criminal.
You kill people.
You are Kala in and out.
You are biggest villain.
Dialogues written by Anwar Khan and Nusrat Sayyed for film Jungbaaz, 1989 pic.twitter.com/itNtt52atk
— Gems of Bollywood (@GemsOfBollywood) September 26, 2020
The treatment, however, is very different for Muslims. In the movie Thikana made by Mahesh Bhatt, a police officer says that since a policeman can’t stand the sight of blood, he should be a maulvi in a Masjid, completely ignoring how Islam sanctions the slaughter of goats on Eid.
Mahesh Bhatt on Islam and peace:
“इस से खून खराबा देखा नहीं जाता. इसे तो मस्जिद का मौलवी होना चाहिए था”
Film: Thikana. 1987 pic.twitter.com/wQ1q93pFfj
— Gems of Bollywood (@GemsOfBollywood) September 25, 2020
In the movie Ganda ki Saugandh made by Sultan Ahmed, a Muslim character educates the backward Hindu family about the evils of caste. “Unlike the inhuman Pandit-Thakur-Baniya mafia, Rahmat Chacha doesn’t believe in untouchability, and is always there to help. Rahmat Chacha is the best. Indeed the best creation of Allah. “Bapu, Rahmat chacha kitne achhe hain.”,” says the account.
Unlike the inhuman Pandit-Thakur-Baniya mafia, Rahmat Chacha doesn’t believe in untouchability, and is always there to help. Rahmat Chacha is the best. Indeed the best creation of Allah.
“Bapu, Rahmat chacha kitne achhe hain.”
Film Ganga ki Saugandh by Sultan Ahmed. pic.twitter.com/HJocqoYTqX
— Gems of Bollywood (@GemsOfBollywood) September 27, 2020
The account, as per its bio, is run by Swati Goel Sharma, who writes for Swarajya, and Agniveer founder Sanjeev Newar. It’s now asking people to send in any examples of Bollywood movies with such subluminal messaging.
It’s not as though such bigotry existed only in old Bollywood movies — such messaging is now much more common and in-your-face in shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime, where entire storylines and plots are designed to vilify and denigrate Hindus. But people are finally using the power of social media to call out the hateful messaging — and fight back against the entrenched Bollywood-establishment nexus.