@Evening: 🙄 Bollywood's Serial Glorification Of Pakistan

@Evening: 🙄 Bollywood's Serial Glorification Of Pakistan

by Karan Kamble - Jan 30, 2023 07:38 PM +05:30 IST

Let's Talk: 🤔 Bollywood and ISI... Just why?

A still from the Bollywood film 'Pathaan', where Deepika Padukone plays an ISI agent.
A still from the Bollywood film 'Pathaan', where Deepika Padukone plays an ISI agent.

Pathaan — an Indian film where you are left wondering whether our filmmakers have mistaken ISI for UNICEF, in stark contrast with reality.

How Bollywood views ISI. Just a quick look at two characters in the film can help illustrate the point.

  • Pathaan's antagonist, Jim, is a former Indian soldier gone rogue.

  • He happens to be a recipient of the ‘Veer Puraskar’ — a title that had to replace the 'Ashoka Chakra' on censor board's direction.

  • Rubina Mohsin, on the other hand, played by actor Deepika Padukone, has no disagreements with her government.

  • Just to be clear: Mohsin is part of ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency.

  • Mohsin says there is only one rotten apple in her (noble) country — a certain military general. “If my people find out about him, they will bloody hang him,” she says.

  • She later allies with ‘Pathaan’, played by actor Shah Rukh Khan, to kill India's Jim, who is creating a biological bomb to kill Indians, over a fallout with the Indian government.

  • Cue the tears.

Hindi films feel for Pakistan. Pathaan’s pro-ISI plot has angered many Indians, who have expressed their displeasure on social media. (The film was even released amid protests over other aspects.)

  • The anger seems not limited to the film alone, but as a reaction to Bollywood’s serial glorification of Pakistanis through fictionalised plots.

  • In the last few years, films such as PK (2014), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), Raazi (2018), Indoo Ki Jawani (2020), and 83 (2021) were blatant in their pro-Pakistan agenda.

Fiction vs reality. There's a stark contrast, though. While Pakistani spies and people are depicted as India-loving in Indian films, the real Pakistani machinery is as hostile as they come towards real India.

  • Pakistan’s Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry in 2020 admitted to Pakistan’s role in the dastardly Pulwama attack a year earlier, where at least 49 Indian soldiers were killed. 

  • Think back to Pakistan's conduct after Captain Saurabh Kalia and his soldiers were captured by Pakistani troops during the 1999 Kargil war. They were tortured and killed in violation of the Geneva Convention.

  • Pakistan’s role in carrying out jihadi terrorism in Kashmir is undisputed. (These are just the tip of the iceberg.)

  • Yet our films look at their establishment with loving, sympathetic eyes.

  • Meanwhile, the Pakistani film industry has made no films showing Indian agencies or its majority population in even a bit of a good light.

  • Cases in point: Musalman (2001), Moosa Khan (2001), and Waar (2013), to name just a few.

Meanwhile, Pathaan is seeking success in the Hindi film industry, which is neck-deep in troubled water.

  • Simply in terms of the box office, the film is posting record numbers.

  • The bigger picture, though, is that Bollywood as a whole is struggling.

  • It's finding it hard to compete with films in English and regional languages, which seem far more sensible, authentic, and accessible to the Indian audiences in comparison.

Friends, on a future email, we'll bring you statements made over the years by film professionals in India and Pakistan, buttressing the point about the one-sided love.

- Karan Kamble

Adapted from Swati Goel Sharma and Sanjeev Newar's article.

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