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Indian Cinema and Communalism

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From its very beginnings the film industry has been a tool to entertain people. This revolutionary medium has affected our lives, our society and our social system a lot. Whether it is on the social front, or economic, political or religious front, it has gained popularity, earned money and influenced people at large. One industry in particular has become a multi-billion dollar entity, the Bollywood film industry is one with an identity recognizable world-wide. Filmmakers have used the real life experiences as well as imaginary, mythological, fictional or historical imprints to express their ideas and translate them creatively into celluloid.

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This is the main narrative and objective of the Bollywood industry. It has been showing the real images of Indian life and life styles in the most creative and innovative way possible. Indian cinema has done all it can to entertain people but in this process many people have been hurt as well because one must remember being a multicultural and plural society, we have always negated communal ideology and aspects and such traits are never welcomed.

Thus this is where we examine this with our main the focus is on the communal problems and the biases related to it in Hindi Cinema.

India is still predominantly Hindu and if a film is meant to be most successful it has to cater to this demographic. There is a redundancy of neutrality between the two religions or a main focus on a pro-India standpoint. Keeping a similar theme amongst movies keeps loyal viewers loyal. Films are a direct vocalization of the thoughts and views of politicians as well as the beliefs of society. Films are also a tool of manipulation of mind-sets in society. A good example of the type of guiding the films provide can be found in Farhan Akhtar’s film Lakshya.

The film is based on the 1999 Kargil Conflict where Pakistani troops invade the Indian territory of Kashmir. It stars Hritik Roshan, Amitabh Bachchan, and Preity Zinta — all very big Bollywood stars. There is a scene that takes place after the Indian army is aware of the Kashmir infiltration and have breached the Kashmir camps. One of the officers in the Indian army is a Muslim. After killing all the Muslim Kashmiris the Muslim in the Indian army answers a call form a Kashmir leader to one of his men. After the Kashmiri leader realizes that the Indian officer is Muslim he questions him, “are you Muslim? The officer responds, “To you, I am Indian. ” A true Muslim would not denounce his/her faith for any circumstance.

Another outlandish display of pure marketing was in Yash Chopra’s, Fanaa. This stars Kajol and Aamir Khan, both very famous. The story line focuses on Aamir Khan’s character, who is a Muslim from Kashmir, and is working undercover to steal a detonator from the military so as to empower Kashmir. Kashmir it fighting for its independence and planned on using nuclear arms as a threat in order to make demands. Khan’s character does not wish to fulfil the mission, but is pressured by his Uncle.

The final scene shows Khan with the detonator in hand, a helicopter looming above him with his Uncle in it to collect the item, and another helicopter with a female secret services agent who is on Khan’s trail. The story ends with the female agent single-handedly shooting the Uncle with one shot, as well as shooting down his helicopter with one shot. The female agent is representative of India, women, and the non-Muslim population. The film created entertainment at the expense of belittling Muslims and Kashmiris. Sometimes most of the stories having any shades of communal biases are used for setting the plots.

Religious, fundamental, and political thoughts and events are shown in the films in exaggeration, but only to exemplify the events of the plot and story. End result of these types of stories is always shown and finished on a secular node, in the interest of common person. Some of the important Hindi films, which depict true secular image of Bollywood may be named as- Zakhm(1998) by Mahesh Bhatt, ‘Bombay'(1995) by Mani Ratnam, Sarfarosh by John Mathew Mathan, Rang De Basanti by Rakesh Mehra, Water by Deepa Mehta, Parjania by Homi Adjania, Dhokha by Pooja Bhatt and Rice Plate (of Das Kahaniyan) by Rohit Roy.

These films have shown clearer image of the Muslims in India and also their true Indian spirit of pluralism. Now it is clearly shown that Indian Muslims are responsible citizens of the country and feel threatened if someone attacks or criticizes our identity. It seems like saint Kabir has been a driving force behind the names of truly secular characters in the films. This trend can be seen in Mani Ratnam’s Bombay, and Shimit Amin’s Chak De India. Sarfarosh has given a detailed dialogue on thestatus of Inspector Salim, whose sincerity was being questioned since he is a Muslim.

The character of Salim played by Mukesh Rishi was very meaningful and real. Amir Khan playing the role of ACP Rathore did a close discussion with Inspector Salim. This scene was very much liked by the audience, as this is the original feel of Indian Muslims. Muslim protagonists played in Chak De India and Dhokha are more Indian than Muslim and show that they are taking their responsibilities as routine, where there is no room for communal biases. In 2002 another horrific communal riot broke out in Gujarat. A train from Godhra holding mostly Hindu passengers was set fire to by Muslim fundamentalists.

The end of the Gujarat riots left a death toll of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. Aparna Sen’s, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, is based on the events of the Gujarat riots. The film’s story unfold between the relationship of Meenakshi, a Hindu Brahmin, and her husband, Raja. The two are on a bus stuck in traffic right after the train had been attacked. While stuck on the bus Hindu-extremists with torches come to the bus and tell the driver to open the doors. The driver complies, and the passengers are then forced to identify themselves by religion.

There were two Muslims identified by other passengers, the two were taken out of the bus and killed. The story unfolds that Raja is in fact Muslim and now Meenakshi must weigh her love against her Brahmin background. The film is a great depiction of the changing ways of modern day India, however, it also shows that traditions of the past are still alive. Indian film offers a lot to its viewer. It has some of the most well-thought out scenes, amazing dance numbers, and enjoyable songs. The themes are often it for family-time viewing. There have been recorded numbers of people who go back to see a single film more than ten times.

With type of a turn out it would seem very easy to send more grounded and positive messages to the viewer. Justice for Muslims and Hindus in Indian film would mean that the film industry would have to take a pay cut. The propaganda lying between the lines in the films may be doing more damage than the public is aware of. In terms of class structure, India has a growing middle-class population which will eventually become the majority. As this change continues, the film industry will have to change to suit the majority. As communal conflicts continue to exist in India, and the world, it will continue to exist in Indian film.

Cite this Indian Cinema and Communalism

Indian Cinema and Communalism. (2016, Oct 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/indian-cinema-and-communalism/

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