Bollywood After 9/11 – The Depiction of Islam and the West in Indian Cinema

Since the dramatic activities of September 11, Bollywood Indian cinema has proven an uncommon interest in the terrorist film style, especially with regards to global terrorism and worldwide tensions between Islam and the West.

Striking examples of this genre include Kabir Khan’s New York (2008), Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan (2010), Rensil D’Silva’s Kurbaan (2009) and Apoorva Lakhia’s Mission Istanbul, to call a few. Films like Anil Sharma’s Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyo (2004) and Subhash Ghai’s Black and White (2008) recognition of terrorist troubles in the Indian subcontinent itself. The latter movies have endured within the tradition of pre 9-11 terrorist movies like Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Mission Kashmir (2000), Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se (1998) and Bombay (1995). Ratnam’s Bombay dealt with the devastating Hindu and Moslem riots in 1991, which cost over a thousand lives. Chopra’s Mission Kashmir dealt with a state of affairs of nearby terrorist interest within the Kashmir area backed by way of global terrorist cells working from Afghanistan. In this way the terrorist-style isn’t an entirely new genre in Bollywood, neither is terrorism an unfamiliar phenomenon inside the everyday sports of the Indian subcontinent (the most current and brutal terrorist attack turned into the Mumbai bloodbath in 2008). What makes the latest spate of terrorist movies exciting is that they have entered the worldwide sphere and have grow to be component and parcel of a transnational dialogue between East and West and Islam and the alternative.

 

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To make the terrorist style greater palatable, Bollywood has historically spiced up the violence and suspense with the hallmark bollywood movies track and dance interludes and nostalgic romantic exchanges among the hero and heroine. Mission Kashmir is infamous for its graceful dances and stirring emotional exchanges among the primary protagonists, played out at the violent backdrop of terrorism in Kashmir. Mani Ratnam’s Bombay likewise mixes up the maximum brutal scenes of Hindu and Moslem hatred and violence with scrumptious comedy and a forbidden love affair between a pious Moslem lady and a boy from a tremendously located Shaivite Hindu own family. His father is the trustee of the village temple and each the family patriarchs are violently opposed to the children marrying outdoor their caste and non secular community.

Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan

Following inside the bollywood movies subculture of mixing genres (recognised inside the industry as the masala or spicy recipe film), Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan blends comedy and romance with the political hot potato of put up 9/11 bigotry and racial hatred within the US. The movie’s theme of ultra-nationalist extremism culminates within the senseless killing of a younger Indian boy Sam or Sameer, who is beaten to demise by way of youths in the football ground, in element because of the adopting of his stepfather’s name Khan. Overflowing gushes of emotion and heart stirring romantic songs, inclusive of the mixing of the 1960’s counter culture anthem “We Shall Overcome” (sung in both Hindi and English), arise in the course of the film to each lighten the anxiety and to exemplify the presence of light and hope in a international darkened by means of the sour shadow of worldwide terrorism. The fact that the relevant protagonist Rizvan Khan is a pious Moslem, and politically impartial to the hysteria of the talk, is massive. Brought up through his mother that there are no fixed labels together with Hindu and Moslem, however only properly and horrific humans, Rizvan Khan freely practises his religion with equal love and admire for all other races and creeds, best differentiating among what’s inside the hearts and minds of humans, not to what religion they profess, or to what race, subculture and nationality they belong. Indian Cinema

My Name is Khan is likewise substantial for bollywood movies enthusiasts in that it reunites the most important coronary heart throb couple of Hindi cinema from preceding decades, Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan. The duo turned into formerly paired in of Karan Johar’s earlier blockbusters Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1995) and Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham (2001). Both of these films had been sentimental gushy romances, literally overflowing with juicy outpourings of emotion and feeling; a phenomenon that’s termed rasa in India. The tune and dance sequences were additionally very elaborately staged and blended a stability of the traditional Indian tune and dance bureaucracy (Hindustani tune and traditional folks dances) as well as current Western forms. This ensured the films’ significant reputation in both India and diaspora international locations like Canada, america and the UK.

Karan Johar keeps to utilise the bollywood movies masala method in My Name is Khan, exploiting a sentimental and once in a while drawn out love affair between the autistic hero Rizvan Khan and his eventual Hindu spouse Mandira, a owner of a a success hair dressing salon in San Francisco (the “town of love” which symbolizes the Sixties counter way of life movement exploited by way of Johar within the “We Shall Overcome” series). In the initial scenes of the film, America is portrayed as the land of freedom and possibility, the state in which all races and religions are given the possibility to transport ahead and reap prosperity and happiness in a way that is visible to be almost not possible in a country like traditional India, buffeted as it is with caste and spiritual prejudices and among half and two thirds of its population dwelling in poverty.

For foreign nationals or NRI’s (non-resident Indians), but, 9/11 appreciably modifications this components and shatters the American dream nurtured for many years by means of an Indian diaspora which has merged its Indian cultural roots with American ideals of person freedom and purchaser prosperity. According to Johar’s film, that is now the plight of the Khans who, as opposed to persevering with to behave as completely included individuals of the mainstream community, now discover themselves on the outer edge of a put up-9/11″us and them” rhetoric, fuelled by means of an ultra-nationalist Republican President, who perceives the sector in black and white realities, which have little to do with the normal lives of the common character. It is not any twist of fate that it’s far the newly elected President Barack Obama (performed through his look alike Christopher B. Duncan) who greets Rizvan Khan at the cease of the movie and applauds him for his faith in God and his humanity and perseverance. For Karan Johar, Obama’s election is symbolic of the “us and them” divisions inside the US psyche being brought to a close at the side of the healing of the innate ideals for which the American Republic and its humans stand.

Before the nation’s divisions are healed, but, the Khan’s enjoy extreme non-public hardships because of their ethnicity. These hardships culminate within the tragic death of their teenage son Sameer, beaten to loss of life within the faculty playing area by means of racist youths. In her grief, Sameer’s mother Mandira blames her husband Rizvan, accusing him of the reality that if she and her son had not taken the call of Khan, he would no longer be lifeless. She then tells him that the simplest manner he can compensate for this stigma of being a Khan and, with the aid of implication a Moslem, is to meet america President (at the time it’s miles George W. Bush) and to inform him that: “My Name is Khan and I am not a Terrorist.” This easy phrase becomes a form of mantra during the movie, powerfully confronting the viewer’s publish-Sept. 11 prejudices by way of refusing to link the two principles of Islam and terrorism together: i.E. My call is Khan, therefore I am a Moslem, but on the identical time simply because I am a Moslem, does this mean that I am a terrorist? Unhappily, during the hysteria that accompanied within the wake of 11th of September for many Westerners the two terms, Moslem and terrorist became pretty a whole lot synonymous. Bollywood

This is a movie therefore which, not like its predecessors, isn’t always only aimed at instructing Indians and West Asians (it broke all information in Pakistan), but is likewise geared toward educating and enlightening Westerners. This it does in a completely diffused and didactic way, not only through its exploitation of acquainted West Asian icons, but also thru its exploration of issues and pictures common to the USA and the West: the Sixties counter culture, the plight of the colored people inside the South and references to the civil rights movement via the film’s subject matter music “We Shall Overcome.” This well-known anti-established order track from 1960s while sung in Hindi by means of a religious Moslem in a black gospel church gives the audience an nearly surreal feeling of each merging and, at the same time transcending, country wide, racial and socio-spiritual cultural borders: a course to world brotherhood and solidarity which has been courageously expounded by means of two of the 20th century’s wonderful non secular leaders, India’s Mahatma Gandhi and America’s Martin Luther King.

Karan Johar therefore attracts upon each the Western ideals of liberty and individualism, as well as propounding the roots of west at home jobs  Asian religious piety and communal team spirit. By doing this My Name is Khan proposes an exchange model of worldwide brotherhood and transnational identities and exchanges. This new global version for Johar is one which draws its inspiration and beliefs from the grass roots stage- from the negative coloureds of Georgia, from the socially ostracised Moslems, and from the autistic and mentally handicapped. All of them are an indispensable a part of this international humanity and in the long run the parent of Shah Rukh Khan, the biggest star in the international forum these days (which include Hollywood), speaks for they all, when he says my call is Khan and I am now not a terrorist, not an outcaste and now not a danger to america or the critical values which it seeks to export to the rest of the sector. Rather, as pious Moslems, those like Rizvan Khan have something of cost to make contributions to the US and the west at home jobs , and whilst the ones in energy permit them to achieve this, the important values which have made america brilliant can not best be maintained but expanded and broadened. On the opposite hand, ultranationalist extremist practises will most effective create an increasing number of hatred and department, so that even those who have assimilated the American Dream will develop to become its most sworn enemies. This is the principle topic of Kabir Khan’s New York, which I will briefly speak in part of this article.

Kabir Khan’s New York

Although no longer as a hit on the box workplace as Karan Johar’s blockbuster, Kabir Khan’s New York is perhaps a fair greater interesting instance of the transnational fashion in the Bollywood terrorist genre. Released in 2008, New York specializes in the lives of 3 modern-day younger Indians reading at New York State University collectively. The traditional bollywood movies masala romance dominates the primary 1/2 of the film, specializing in a sentimental love triangle among Maya (Katrina Kaif), Sameer or Sam (John Abrahams) and Omar (Neil Mukesh). Both Katrina Kaif and John Abrahams, as well as Irrfan Khan (gambling the FBi agent Roshan) are nicely mounted stars in Bollywood (Irrfan Khan also starred as the policeman who interrogates the primary protagonist in Slumdog Millionaire). And the presence of these stars, along side the strong musical rating and the dramatic love triangle scenario, confident the film’s achievement in spite of its controversial subject matter. Significantly, Sam and Maya fall in love and shatter Omar’s emotional global at across the equal time as the two hijacked passenger planes are driven into the Twin Towers. As with My Name is Khan, real pictures of the terrorist assault on the World Trade Centre is utilised within the movie.

From this point onwards, a film which has been usually concentrated upon a sentimental love struggle between 3 buddies now will become a political indictment of the Bush management’s post-11th of September terrorist rules. Sam, as part of the FBI’s national hunt for terror suspects, is arrested, incarcerated and tortured. These tortures are graphically depicted in the movie and are reputedly based totally on proper life accounts of harmless victims, who’ve been illegally arrested and incarcerated for no different reason than their having the incorrect ethnic background and non secular persuasion. During the final credits a grim word to this impact informs the viewers of the records that: “In the times following 9-11 greater than 1200 guys of foreign foundation inside the US have been illegally kidnapped, detained and tortured for as long as three years. The government did now not discover evidence linking a single certainly one of them to the 11th of September attack….”

The crucial protagonist Sam or Sameer capabilities as a prototype for these 1200 guys. Indeed, from being a totally assimilated American earlier than his torture and arrest, Sam now becomes a Moslem Jihadi, fusing his hatred for america with that of terrorist cells in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East. His antique buddy Omar is recruited by way of the FBI to undercover agent on Sameer and his Hindu spouse Maya and to crack open Sameer’s links to global terrorist cells. Omar is coerced into betraying his pals on the hazard of disappearing into the FBI’s custody and being tortured for months on end as Sameer were. In this way, although the film does now not actively promote Jihad as a essential guiding principle of Islam, it does painting a sympathetic mental profile of the terrorist mind-set. Sameer’s pal Omar sooner or later is familiar with this also while he is given Sam’s story and the barbaric nature of the ordeals he has had to endure and that have brought on him to become an international terrorist.

Unlike Rizvan Khan, who has no qualms about informing the FBI approximately the enthusiast Doctor Faisal’s terrorist plot in My Name is Khan, New York’s Omar is torn among his sympathies for his friend Sam/Sameer and the United States machine of liberty and justice, which he sees as being critically undermined by using George Bush’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and his repressive home policies in the US, wherein under the Patriot Act essential person rights and liberties of American residents are seemingly violated for no different reason than that they may be of any other ethnicity, tradition and non secular persuasion than the mainstream white majority. Omar, as the voice of motive and sensibility in New York, additionally represents the neutral observer, who is each within the device (he is educated at New York State University) and is outdoor it (he is an NRI country wide from Delhi dwelling within the US). He has additionally been in love with Sam’s spouse Maya but has tried to detach himself from these emotions, indeed from feeling anything at all. As such his selection to infiltrate his buddy’s terrorist institution and participate in its Jihad is sizable. Omar is an “undecideable”; he’s uncertain of his identification, unsure of his beliefs and his loyalties. Eventually, he betrays Sam and his organization and communicates Sam’s plan to explode the FBI headquarters to the FBI agent Roshan and the applicable authorities.

Despite promises from Roshan and the FBI govt heads, both Sameer and Maya are shot lifeless by using FBI snipers at some point of negotiations for Sameer’s surrender. According to Kabir Khan’s debatable film, this kind of FBI brutality and overkill is symptomatic of the brand new put up-11th of September extremely-nationalist America which, in its unrelenting quest to punish the guilty, additionally leaves in its wake the bloodied corpses of the harmless: now not just Maya, but arguably additionally Sam himself. This is a theme which has been taken up courageously and every now and then uncompromisingly by using Hindi cinema.

Another effective instance of this uncompromising condemnation of put up-9/11America takes place in Rensil D’Silva’s Kurbaan. Here, in an open dialogue college discussion board, the primary protagonist Riyaaz condemns US intervention in Afgahanistan and Iraq, claiming that the world’s largest terrorists are the white splendid powers. Riyaaz informs the ethnic white college students present about positive uncomfortable realities in US politics, consisting of the reality that the Taliban became a creation of the CIA and that more than 500,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq. Much to the horror and consternation of the students gift, Riyaaz concludes his speech by way of saying that “simply because you wear a match and speak to your self President does not make you any much less a terrorist.” This is pretty formidable stuff and appears to be reflective of the growing dissatisfaction of sure Bollywood filmmakers towards a length in records in which the west at home jobs appeared to go totally incorrect taking the downward direction from humanitarian ideals of established equality and democracy to policies of religious bigotry and totalitarianism.

Interestingly, even though those topics have additionally been taken up with the aid of Hollywood, in films consisting of James Cameron’s Avatar, they had been depicted in a less direct way. In Avatar, as an example, the” surprise and awe marketing campaign” unleashed upon the indigenous inhabitants of the planet Pandora (surely a connection with Bush’s surprise and awe marketing campaign against Iraq), takes place within the context of an imaginative myth universe, wherein the brutality of corporate capitalism and US neo-imperialist policies is downplayed in that it now not most effective takes place inside the protection of any other continent, as with Iraq and Afghanistan, but takes place on every other planet completely!

The new bollywood movies terrorist genre is consequently a greater uncompromising and certainly annoying contribution to the worldwide debate than movies like Avatar. This is due to the reality that West Asian administrators depict terrorist hobby from the present day political perspective, at the side of exploring applicable troubles connected with the stigmatised cultural and ethnic institution, which has been in large part denied a voice in this debate ever because the 9/11 occasion occurred. As has historically been the case in Indian cinema, the brand new Bollywood terrorist genre gives the Moslem minorities a voice, telling their tale from the internal, making them subject and no longer object and narrating the plot from the angle of their culture, religion and community base. In My Name is Khan, as an instance, Rizvan’s sister in law Hasina is persuaded to remove her hijab (head headband) after being attacked and having it forcibly eliminated by means of an unknown assailant. Eventually, she restores the hijab to her everyday get dressed, together with her lecturing job at university. Here she says to her students: “M y hijab isn’t always simply my spiritual identity. It is part of my existence. It is me.”

In Rensil D’Silva’s Kurbaan, the principal protagonist Riyaaz is also instrumental in teaching white college college students about their preconceptions of Islam as a violent faith and the Koran as a scripture selling Jihad. Riyaaz flatly informs the scholars that the phrase Jihad is in reality cited in the Koran simplest forty one times, but that the term mercy and compassion is noted 355 times. In this way, the movie’s visitors are also knowledgeable that Islam is predominantly a religion of compassion and peace and now not violence and bloodshed, as right wing vested interest organizations have led us to accept as true with within the beyond decade or so.

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