by Abdul Sattar Shaik
A woman covered in a black burka pictured against a mountainous backdrop surrounded by barbed wires or a pandit with a petrified-looking face haunted by his plight; it’s a good enough depiction for any film poster to create the hoo-hah on social media and draw attention of the crowds to movies.
Propaganda-based movies like the Kashmir files and Kerala story have thrived on false narratives with half-cooked and half-baked stories in social media times. Movies that could have hardly stood their ground at the box office a decade back in the era of contemporary media—can now draw moviegoers in numbers—it speaks of a great deal of the influence of social media.
Any movie off-late that has shown Islam in a negative light has always caught the attention of the world and has done overwhelmingly well since it appeases a major chunk of the population. Especially in a country like India where Hindutva ideology is on the rise; movies such as these that equate patriotism with a particular religious identity toppled up with the flavor of Islamophobia can do wonders.
Kashmir and Kerala have been some of the few states that have always been at the forefront of news and debate in India calling them names like separatist, beef states, and many others. Interestingly they do not fall under the dominion of the ruling party, hence becoming fodder for criticism and slander whenever such an opportunity has arisen.
We witnessed how the prime minister has taken a movie as his aide in promoting a negative vibe and took a jibe at these states that do not fall under his party’s dominion. The magnanimity of the governments has resulted in levying-off taxes to promote these movies informally and use them as a political tool to strike the opposition of the respective states. The movies have been lauded and have been given the necessary air on social media platforms for the commoners to go and watch them.
For many obscure movie makers, this is a good opportunity to make money out of thin air since they have found a tool to generate income from the people’s fetish for Islamophobia: an element that grabs a lot of eyeballs across the globe and more so here because of the political turmoil that is brewing up in the country with regards to Muslims and Hindus. Concurrently, putting together the necessary hype and the frenzy that is needed for a person who keeps away from movies to go ahead and watch it.
That being said, at the end of the day, the moviemakers, actors, and producers take away all those crores of rupees leaving the public to protest, be prejudiced, and spite each other causing a taint in the national peace. The media is delighted to keep finding new stories and to keep publishing them in their tabloids and if they don’t get anything to write about, they end up explaining what people did on social media, which has become the newest norm of mass media and journalism.
The better it would be for everyone and the nation if the kind of movies that are being made; the thrust under the Wings is not offered: By widely sharing on social media platforms and by creating a mess out of it through debates and protests to ban movies and demonstrations. These movies thrive and live on people’s emotions, and it would be better if we react less and act more.
We would continue to see this trend with more movies being made with the ulterior motive to make money through islamophobia and depicting Muslims as antagonists, and terrorists, bringing the villain to life out of historical figures that will thrive on hate and animosity. We would seldom see movies that will show the right values of Islam and Muslims since they won’t sell in the market and appease a larger audience, The solution is to keep calm and let the bigoted art find its own way to the coffin at the box office.