An idea of ‘Nationalism’ propagated by Bollywood has come to hit it back. Bollywood has loads of films, which try to depict ‘Nationalism’ through Pakistan bashing and Army glorification. It also depicts India as a peaceful country but a sufferer and victim of sponsored terrorism from outside. Films such as Roja, Zameen, Sarfarosh, Gadar, Diljale and Agent Vinod have instances of promoting anti-Pakistani sentiment. None of these films attempt at depicting the role played by Indian and Pakistani state to keep the issues unresolved and continue accentuating the differences. None of them delve deeper into the unresolved issues.
The monster which has been created due to Pakistan bashing now has started hitting back Bollywood. The ‘Nationalism’ based on ‘anti-other’, however professionally made, is trouncing back. There is no doubt that while politics tried to accentuate the differences, Bollywood also to large extent contributed to the promotion of ‘Pako-phobia’and Íslamophobia’ in the cultural arena. There were films which tried to reduce sentiments of hatred such as in Filmistan, PK and called for co-existence. But these were quite few.
Even before the advent of Hindutva forces to power, Pakistan bashing and glorification of army was the basis of promoting ‘nationalist’ sentiment. This has now only reached more dangerous proportions. Even the organized Bollywood industry Indian Motion Pictures Association (IMPA) has toed the line of the Government in the recent controversy. Individuals such as Om puri, Mukesh Bhatt, Abhay Deol have gone against this discourse being cultivated. Karan Johar while he initially questioned it, compromised later.
The statement of Karan Johar only shows how fear has taken over Bolly-wood. Now the fear is not from the underworld with likes of Dawood Ibrahim. But it is from the over-ground with likes of Raj Thackarey who operate in the name of ‘nationalists’. The circumstances created by threats has forced an established Producer to come out and declare that a) he is not anti-national; b) he will not employ artists from neighbouring country in future. This is a few days after he questioned the logic of mixing art and politics. His film Áe dil hain mushkil’ with Pakistani artist Fawad Khan is to be released shortly. It does appear capitulation. But it also shows how fear has gripped Bolly-wood.
In the latest development, Fadnavis, Thackarey and Karan Johar came together and agreed that for the film to be released, it needs to contribute about Rs. 5 crore towards the Army welfare fund. This is also to be done with other films employing Pakistani artists such as ‘Raees’ and ‘Dear Zindagi’.
The process of equating a) employing Pakistani artists with being anti-national or b) working against interests of the army, is only a continuation of the trend of promoting nationalism through Pakistan bashing and Army glorification. Bollywood too had cultivated Pakistani bashing and army glorification as a basis for ‘nationalism. But it is also affected by the same.
T. Navin works with NGO as a Researcher. He did his M.Phil from Jawaharlal Nehru University.