Bollywood Movie ‘Sooryavanshi’ Faces Flak for Peddling Islamophobia

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Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Sooryavanshi’, which was released recently, has came under massive criticism for peddling Islamobhobia and whipping up anti-Muslim sentiments through thriller cop drama.

The movie directed by director Rohit Shetty is about heroic cops who are out to save the country from terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic terror groups. The film also mentions the Bombay blasts and Taj Hotel attack.

On Tuesday, noted journalist Rana Ayyub wrote a piece in The Washington Post flaying the film for carrying forward the anti-Muslim agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Sooryavanshi” is dangerous. After watching it, it’s impossible not to think of Nazi Germany, where Hitler cultivated a film industry that paid obeisance to him and made propaganda films against Jews. In a sane world, India’s film industry – and actors, directors and producers from all over the world – would denounce it for its criminal and brazen Islamophobia,” wrote Rana adding, “If Bollwood continues this aggressive descent into nationalism and hate, it will have blood on its hands. No box office record will be able to change that”.

Ayyub talked about the hateful picturisation of a Muslim man who had been living a quiet domestic life posing as a Hindu. When he is being confronted by his Hindu wife about his terror plot, his wife was killed by his accomplices. The film promotes the love-jihad conspiracy and justifiee the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir.

“Every third frame of the film is a blood curdling Isalmobhobic image. While an upper-class Hindu character played by Kumar gives lessons in patriotism, the Muslim antagonist responds with hate. He is ungrateful, with a long beard and skull cap. Each time the protagonist sermonizes the Indian Muslim to fall in line, the audinece in the theater where I saw the film whistled and applauded,” noted Ayyub about the film after watching it.

Ayyub’s piece on the film has triggered a row over the film which is highly successful at the box office. However, its anti-Muslim approaches has been taken note off from different corners. Some US-based civil rights groups – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Justice for All (JFA), and the Indian-American Muslim Council (IAMC) – have urged theatres not to play the controversial movie.

“Sooryavanshi is a disgusting and dangerous example of anti-Muslim bigotry in the film industry that is designed to portray Muslims and Islam as a threat and inferior to others. In a time when hate crimes against Muslims and other minorities have dramatically increased in India, this film only serves to endanger Muslims further and contributes to the environment of hate and hostility faced by Muslims in India,” said Huzaifa Shahbaz, CAIR Research and Advocacy Coordinator, in a statement.

Zahir Adel, a leader of Justice for All (JFA), said that such movies play its role in anti-Muslim violence in India.

“Sooryavanshi is one such film, which in the guise of fiction, relays the narrative that Indian Muslims cannot be trusted. Such films lead to real-world violence against Muslims in India. The film is being screened in the US and will undoubtedly fuel Islamophobia,” said Adel.

IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed also flayed the Bollywood, saying: “Hindi cinema has especially become rabidly Islamophobic promoting Hindu majoritarian propaganda and falsehood, spreading hatred and inciting violence towards Muslims”.

In an interview with The Quint, film director Rohit Shetty was asked about the depiction of Muslims. He responded by saying that Hindus have always been the villain in his movies.

“If I ask you one question – Jaykant Shikre (the antagonist in Singham, essayed by Prakash Raj) was a Hindu, then came into this universe (Singham, Singham Returns, and Simmba), a Hindu Godman who was the villain. In Simmba, Durva Yashwant Ranade (played by Sonu Sood) was a Maharashtrian. In these three films, negative forces were Hindu. Why wasn’t that a problem?”

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