Another Bollywood film based on a cross-border romance has hit theatres today. And as always, Hindus are the ones shown with bigoted, pre-conceived notions about Pakistanis, who in turn are projected as pure, albeit misunderstood, souls.
Going by its trailer and entertainment media chatter, “Indoo ki Jawani” features Indoo Gupta (Kiara Advani) who finds one Samar from Hyderabad on a dating app. Later, she finds out that he is a Pakistani national (probably from the city of Hyderabad in Sindh, Pakistan). This is followed by a news bulletin, which informs that suspected terrorists from Pakistan have infiltrated the city and are hiding. Our heroine assumes Samar is one of the said terrorists, and we presume the usual ‘mistaken identity turns to love’ plot unfolds.
At a time when the world is finally waking up to the brutal persecution of Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan – in particular the abduction, rape, forced conversion and marriage of minor Hindu and Christian girls- the messaging of Bollywood movies like Indoo ki Jawani is diametrically opposite. Even a top US diplomat recently admitted that Pakistan is marketing Hindu and Christian women as “concubines” and “forced brides” to China.
As for terror, Pakistan continues harbouring terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar, and plotting its moves in the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ jihad against Bharat. Pulwama was a grim reminder of how this rogue nation behaves despite cosmetic changes to its political leadership. Our metro cities have escaped the bombings and terror attacks that were routine till the early 2010s only because of the hardwork of our security agencies, and a more resolute Bharatiya government that refuses to engage with Pakistan till it changes its jihadi ways.
But Indoo ki Jawani is a throwback to what PK attempted – showing a Hindu girl falling in love with a nice Pakistani man, but the couple are thwarted by the girl’s ‘bigoted’ father after he consults a Hindu saint who fraudulently predicts that the man will betray his daughter. Or similar to how Bajrangi Bhaijaan showed a Hindu Brahmin family as narrow-minded and discriminating while Pakistanis (including a maulana) were shown as open-minded and non-discriminating.
In fact, research by an IIM-Ahmedabad professor showed that out of 20 Bollywood movies with Pakistan as the setting examined by his team, in 18 of those films Pakistanis were projected as welcoming, courteous, open-minded and courageous while Indians were largely projected as narrow-minded, unwelcoming, and conservative. As a side note – the research also showed a heavy anti-Hindu slant in Bollywood, a trend the professor said has picked up speed since 2000.
Is it too much to expect Bollywood to not rub salt on the wounds of those Pakistani Hindus who have sought refuge in Bharat – most of whom come from Sindh province, which is the ancestral home of Kiara’s father – and the ones who continue to live in unimaginable fear in Pakistan? It doesn’t take much to visit a refugee camp and talk to the likes of Jevar, a resident of a refugee camp in Delhi’s Asola, who said – “Our girls remain confined to the house because we don’t want them to be noticed.”
Yes, you heard that right Kiara – Pakistani Hindu parents hesitate to even send their girls to school, so terrified are they that the girl will be kidnapped, whisked away to some Islamic seminary or dargah like Bharchundi Sharif (run by the notorious Mian Mithoo), raped and converted, while police & judiciary turn a blind eye to protestations of helpless parents.
Did you know Kiara, that as per Pakistan human rights activists, every year 1000 Hindu and Christian girls are abducted & forcibly converted to Islam, ‘married’ to men twice or thrice their age with most of them ending up dead or sold into prostitution when their ‘husband’ has no more use of them. And this is not just ‘Hindutva bigots’ saying this, but listen to what a respected Pakistani journalist like Najam Sethi has to say about this issue. Such abductions are forced conversions are celebrated by the dominant section of Pakistani society as an act of bringing an ‘infidel living in darkness into the light of Islam’.
And here Indoo ki Jawani wants to shame Hindus for ‘stereo-typing’ Pakistanis as terrorists and extremists. How long will Bollywood continue to pretend that anti-Hindu bigotry is not mainstream in Pakistan? In the day and age of social media, where every day we witness scenes of poor Hindus being attacked, their homes burnt, women sexually violated, when Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan are repeatedly telling us how thankful they are that despite the official apathy and indifference from Indian elites they witness in Bharat, just being able to live without fear and pray to their Gods is reason enough for them to risk the journey from Pakistan….and Bollywood wants us to believe that ‘all is well’, that Pakistanis are just like us and the differences between the two nations are just created by politicians? Did the Nazis get defeated by pretending that there is nothing wrong with Germany?
And lest you take this personally, Kiara, we don’t blame you – after all, you live and work in an industry where the leading lights have made it their personal agenda to broker Pak-India bonhomie and ride roughshod over Hindu sensitivities in the name of ‘artistic expression’.
Indoo ki Jawani‘s writer-director Abir Sengupta, and producers Bhushan Kumar (T-series) and Nikkhil Advani (Emmay) should introspect on how they are misleading the youth of this country and giving a free pass to a modern Nazi state and its bigoted Islamist populace. Bhushan Kumar’s father Gulshan Kumar was shot dead by Mumbai underworld goons at the behest of notorious gangster-terrorist Dawood Ibrahim who is believed to be holed up in Karachi under ISI protection. If not to their community, can people like Bhushan at least show some loyalty to the memory of their own immediate family? Or have they literally sold their souls for money?
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