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11. The Rot of Bollywood

It is no coincidence that Pakistan, in connivance with Indian Muslims and the covert approval of Saudi Arabia, chose Bombay to plant their deadly bombs after the destruction of the mosque of Ayodhya. For there has always been a strong connection between the Muslims of Bombay, with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, via the film industry (isn’t it, Mr Dilip Kumar?). We all know how Indian actors and actresses used to be invited at Dawood Ibrahim’s parties and today we have discovered how black ‘blood’ money is utilized to finance many of Bollywood mega-films. Thus, some of these films encourage terrorism and secession in subtle and not so subtle ways. We have chosen three such films: Refugee, Mission Kashmir and Maachis..

Refugee, a Secular Film ?

Have you ever heard of a secular film ? If there is such a thing, Refugee must be the one ! You have the hero, Abishek Bacchan, a selfless and courageous Indian Muslim, who has a Hindu guru, a very rare happening today for a Muslim; you have the Bangladeshi Muslim refugees, who are the real heroes of the film simple, good-natured folks who only want to live in peace in the land of their choice; you have the tough but good-hearted Indian BSF officer, who happens to be played by a Christian, Jacky Schroff; you have the nice Pakistani Ranger, acted by Sunil Shetty, a Hindu, as opposed to the bad Pakistani infiltrators 

But Refugee is also a bit of a devious film and whoever wrote the script knew very well what he was doing, as it takes advantage of the innocence of the average viewer to put across a few messages which are sometimes of a very doubtful nature. Firstly notice that the real villains of the film are not the Pakistani infiltrators after all, like those who infiltrated into Kargil In 99, you could term them as “patriotic”, as they believe that their Scriptures preach a jihad unto India and that dying for that cause will take them straight to heaven. No, no, the real villain is the Hindu character, who in the very first scene of the film offers a passage to Pakistan to the hapless Bangladeshis. He is certainly not patriotic and is ready to betray anybody, including his own race for dirty money. And notice how he says “Ram-Ram”, when he contacts the Bangladeshis an allusion to the kar-sevaks who brought down the Ayodhya mosque and maybe a hint that many worshippers of Ram could be crooks. And observe how this Hindu criminal is finally justly killed by a Christian and a Muslim, a not so subtle indication that Muslims and Christians are united against the scheming Hindus.

Refugee is also full of “symbols” which may look innocuous to the millions of naive villagers who have already seen the film, but should not escape the eye of an attentive viewer. Have you remarked for instance how the Bangladeshis refugees prostrate themselves on the ground when they reach the stone which marks the Pakistan border ? Is Pakistan then the Promised Land ? Or have you noticed how the heroine, a Muslim, sights her lover from an abandoned Hindu temple during a night halt in the desert ? It must be one of the very few left by the invading Muslims, who razed hundred of thousands of Hindu temples, and are still at it today in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Then there is also the Sufi festival in Rajasthan, where both Muslims and Hindus pray together. Fine, but the scene is a bit misleading : it used to happen in the old times, as Hinduism has always accepted the divinity of other religions and a Hindu, even today, does not mind praying at a church or a mosque. It is true also that the Sufis, because of the influence of Advaita, had softened their brand of Islam. But Harzabal, the last real Sufi shrine in Kashmir was burnt down at the hands of Pakistani and Afghans mujahedins and the traditional Sunnis look down on that kind of mixing-up with Kafir Hindus.

There is one symbol though, which makes a good point, even if it is not done in a very credible manner, it is when the child of the heroes is born on No Man’s land, with the help of Pakistani and Hindu improvised midwifes and under the benevolent guard of the BSF and Pakistani officers, who have forgotten their enmity. It is certainly true that Pakistan and Indians are brothers and sisters, as everything unites them: language, customs, culture, color of their skin, food habits, music  except their religion. It is also true that many visionaries, such as Sri Aurobindo, have always said that as long as Pakistan and India do not reunite, in whatever manner, there will be wars, and Kashmirs and atom bombs… But it will certainly not happen in a filmy manner such as depicted in Refugee. First Islam has to give-up its intolerant credo, accept the reality of India and stop sending its mujahedins in Kashmir. The rest will then follow naturally.

It is also true that the film is quite brilliant: the photography of the Ran of Kutch is superb, Kareema Kapoor acts as if it’s her second nature, the music is enchanting enough and there is something very endearing about Abishek Bacchan. Nevertheless this cannot hide the fact that there is something very rotten about Hindi films nowadays. We know already how many of them were (and are still ?) financed not only by black money, but also with blood money, which happens to be mostly in control of the Muslim underworld, both in India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Dawood Ibrahim being the most known figure, but certainly not the only one; we know too now that there is a lot of extortion and blackmail going on inside the industry and crimes have been committed recently. But on top of that, Hindi cinema is going towards self-suicide: how long can you go on feeding the masses films that have hardly any script at all and which always cater to the dramatic side of the Indian ethos, however many beautifully choreographed songs and dances in more and more exotic locales they contain ? It is time that Hindi cinema does a little bit of introspective and that its actors, scriptwriters, musicians, choreographers, who are all talented people and often come from Muslim backgrounds, start thinking about creativity, originality and bringing to the masses a little more than escapism and a little bit of self-pride in their own country, as they did during the Kargil war.

Mission Kashmir

Hindi cinema has a strange habit of oscillating between syrupy sentimentality and extreme gratuitous violence, the whole process being punctuated with endless songs and dances, which generally have nothing to do with the story. Mission Kashmir is no different  Except the film has a message: it endeavors to show us what went wrong in Kashmir and implicitly advocates a just solution for the Kashmris’ woes.

The problem is that it got everything wrong. Firstly, the police in Kashmir do not perform commando operations, such as the one depicted in the film : this type of action is left to the reliable army, the BSF, playing second fiddle, and the police, not fully trusted, because of the presence of too many Kashmiris, performing the less sensitive type of services. Secondly, the raid on the houseboat where the militants are hiding, is today a very unlikely scenario, as the Dal Lake is one of the most patrolled spots in Kashmir. Thirdly, whatever Human Right Organizations say, the Indian Army, one of the most restrained armed bodies in the world, do not shoot unarmed women and children, except through accidental crossfire.

The film plays a lot on the fact that Sanjay Dutt, a Kashmiri Muslim, is married to a Hindu. What better example of communal harmony could be found? Indeed, the movie seems to imply that there lies the ‘secular’ solution for Kashmir (in the end we see the symbolic sinking in the mire of the triple image of Jesus, the Koran and Laxmi). But what is the reality? Most Hindu women who have married Muslims (such as Sharmila Tagore), have converted to Islam the reverse is rarely true. And what about the Hindus who lived peacefully with their Muslim brothers for centuries? There were one million of them in 1900. Today they all have been made to flee through terror and intimidation. And those few hundreds who stayed behind, are still massacred episodically.

Furthermore, there are no “evil” Kashmiri militants, as the film wants us to believe. If you see photos of Muslim separatists killed by the army or caught, you will notice that most of them are very young, poorly dressed, and often look scared. Jackie Schroff also makes a ridiculous caricature of the Pakistani militant who masterminded the burning of the Shar-e Sharif mosque, the last great Sufi shrine where Hindus and Muslims used to worship together (which is the scenario which the film should have copied - and not an hypothetical attempt to blast Harzatbal)

Lastly, and this is a misconception which the film unfortunately shares with India’s politicians, it is a total folly to think that the Kashmiris of the Valley only want peace and are ready to become good Indian citizens, providing their just grievances are met. The truth is that at least 95% of Muslims in Kashmir, from the retired High Court Judge to the Shikkara boatman, wish to become part of Pakistan, as they feel that Islam will assure them of a better deal and protection. In fact, the problem is not with Muslims, which are as good human beings as Hindu or Christians, whether in Kashmir, UP, or Kerala, the problem is with a religion which is alien to India and teaches its devotees to look westwards towards the Mecca, in a language which is not Indian, towards a theology which is culturally alien to Indians and teach them to loathe anything which is not Muslim. As long as the Koran, which was written in Medieval Times for a medieval mentality, does not care to adapt itself to modern times and tone down some of its precepts, such as the injunction of jihad on Infidels, there will ====f that division, which most Indian political leaders have accepted as a permanent ‘fait accompli’. But the mistake is to think that there exists a solution to Kashmir. There is NO solution : India righly considers that Kashmir has been part of its territory since milleniums and will not let go of it it could signal the balkanisation of the country ; and Pakistan has a point when it says that in the (mad) logic of Partition, the Valley of Kashmir, which has a majority of Muslims, should have reverted to them.

Eeverywhere in the world we see at an attempt at unity, not fragmentation : the two Germanies have reunited ; so have the two Vietnams ; and tomorrow the two Koreas will follow suit, in spite of strong ideological differences. So why not India and Pakistan ? And are not Pakistan and India part of the same soul? Are not Pakistanis and Indians of the same colour, culture, ethnic stock? Have they not the same food habits, the same customs in many ways? In truth, you cannot really differentiate one Punjabi from the other Punjabi, or one Sindhi from the other Sindhi, except for his religion. So what if they worship two different Gods, which are but two names for the same Infinite Reality… Why should Indian and Pakistan, two developing countries, go on spending billions and billions of dollars and even risk a nuclear holocaust ?

When this possiblity will be accepted by both sides, half of the reunifying work will be over, Indian Muslims will feel at peace and the problem of Kashmir will solve itself naturally.

An Open Letter to Jawaharlal Nehru

Dear Jawaharlal: yesterday went to see the film Maachis. I am sure that from up there you get free screenings and have no hassles of queuing, bombs scares and body searches, like us poor mortals ! Thus, like me, you must have been able to appreciate the excellent photography of the film, which was shot in natural settings with a special attention for small details; the good acting: the hero does look like a handsome, well-meaning, law abiding Sikh - at least for a time; and Tabu comes out as an endearing, courageous and beautiful terrorist - in - spite -of -herself. Respected Pandit-ji, even though I am a foreigner, I have lived a long time in your country and I have even married an Indian, a sadarni at that. Yet, there is something which deeply disturbed me in this film, for it implies clearly that Sikh separatism was born out of police brutality and not vice versa as it seems to have been the case. In fact the whole film seems to me to be a covert exercise in glorification and justification of terrorism. You just have to replace the hero by a Bodo lad, a Kashmiri terrorist, or even a Tamil separatist, and the trick is done: bye India.

But isn’t the reality altogether different ? Take Sikkism for instance, the indirect subject of this movie: “The Sikh Khalsa, writes Sri Aurobindo, India’s great revolutionary, poet, philosopher and Sage, was an astonishingly original and novel creation and its face was turned not to the past but to the future. Apart and singular in its theocratic head and democratic soul and structure, its profound spiritual being, the first attempt to combine the deepest elements of Islam and Vedanta, it was a premature drive towards an entrance into the third or spiritual stage of human society, but it could not create between the spirit and the external life the transmitting medium of a rich creative thought and culture. And thus hampered and deficient it began and ended with narrow local limits, achieved intensity but no power of expansion…” Unfortunately, the Sikhs, because they had to defend themselves against the terrible persecutions wrought by the Muslims, became a militant religion, adopting hawkish habits, which even in time of peace they kept. Thus, they also retained some of the more negative side of Islam: intolerance, or feeling of persecution, consequently cutting themselves from the mainstream spirit of Hindu tolerance and magnitude from which they anyway came, and where they might ultimately go back.

Sikkism, particularly during your daughter’s tenure as Prime Minister of India, was on the defensive, or rather displayed and still does today in countries like Canada - an aggressive spirit of defence. Why? As Sri Aurobindo points out, Sikhism was an astonishing attempt at synthesising Islam and Hinduism, but because the conditions were not right, it faltered. And today, whatever the loveliness of Sikh rites, the incredible beauty of the Golden Temple and its wonderful atmosphere; Sikhism, like Zoroastrianism of the Parsi community, may be a stagnating religion - whereas Hinduism from which Sikhism sprang in greater part, is very much alive and remains the Dharma, the source of all religions in India. It may be this unconscious realisation by the Sikhs that their religion is being slowly absorbed back into Hinduism, which triggers their militancy and fundamentalism. And after all, what is fundamentalism, but going back to the fundamentals, the foundations ? And Sikhism blossomed_ best_ when it was militant, when it fought the Muslims; therefore unconsciously, the separatists of the late seventies went back to that crease, to that glorious epoch to regain their identity. That is all what separatism is, a desperate attempt to regain Sikh identity in the face of the all pervasive and subtle Hindu onslaught. The fact that the British had planted that seed of separatism and that later it was fuelled, financed and armed by Pakistan, certainly did not help. But can the British, or Pakistan, or even Indira Gandhi be credited with having of FABRICATED Sikh separatism? Your unfortunate daughter was herself accused of having ‘created’ Bhrindhrawale and made thus responsible for the whole Punjab problem. This is going to extremes; she may have helped politically Bhrindhrawale and thought of using him later to counterbalance her opponents in Punjab. That’s bad enough; but Bhrindhrawale’s fanaticism and violence was his own, he was just an embodiment of Sikh militancy and frustration; if he had not been there, another Bhrindhrawale would have sprung-up, with or without your daughter’s help.

The film implies also that Sikhs (and many other « secular » Indians), have not forgiven your daughter for giving the order of storming the Golden Temple. History will judge. But think of it this way: would the French Government have tolerated that for months, Basque separatists, for instance, be holed up in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one of the holiest of all Christian shrines, with their weapons, issuing deaths warrants against politicians, and receiving journalists, as Bhrindhrawale did? Certainly not. These Basque militants would not have lasted three days in Notre Dame; the army would have been called - and although great care would have been taken that no harm be done to the wonderful 1000 year old cathedral, it would have been a fight to the finish. Remember also what happened to the 350 militants who took over the Kaba in Mecca in 1989? Most of them were killed when the Saudi government sent its special forces against what is the most sacred place of worship in the world to all Muslims. It is a credit to Indira and the inherent Hindou tolerance, that Bhrindhrawale and his followers were allowed to hole-up for so long in the Golden Temple. No democratic government in Europe or any Arab state would have allowed such a situation to continue. It was unfortunate that the Golden Temple got damaged and so many were killed during the assault; but as the Head of Government, your daughter took the correct decision. It was not her fault that the Sikhs allowed their most sacred place to become the shelter of men armed with weapons and with death in their hearts.

You must have noticed pandit-ji that we also get a flashback in the film, showing us the riots against Sikhs after your daughter’s assassination. True, it was a ghastly and shameful moment of Indian history and the culprits should be punished. But is it not also shameful that many Sikhs rejoiced when Indira was murdered in such a cowardly way by her own Sikh bodyguards, men she had trusted, even though she had been told earlier to have all Sikhs removed from her personal security. To kill a woman lying on the ground with bullets, generates a curse for any race that condones it. Today, Punjab seems to be on the mend, even though militancy is still there, even though there are still extremists. But what is asked of Sikhs today is that they break their silence and come out openly for India. Unfortunately, the Sikh community, although its majority cherish their country and are peace-loving, hard-working, good-natured people, never COLLECTIVELY condemned the murder of Mrs Gandhi, nor stated their desire to stay as part of the great Indian community. Perhaps this is the curse of the Sikhs.

What made me saddest dear Jawaharlal, is that when the film finished and the lights came on, I had the feeling that none of the spectators, even those amongst my own Indian family, found anything wrong with it. Like millions of others who have already seen it, they all trooped out feeling sorry for the poor innocent Sikhs portrayed in the movie and angry at the brutal policemen and the corrupt, power-hungry politicians. But policemen in India are no more brutal than their German counterpart, for instance; and even if Indian politicians may look apparently more openly corrupt than elsewhere, I am sorry to say, dear Mr Nehru, that your Congress party, which has ruled and shaped Indian politics for so many years, is greatly responsible for it. What is much more corrupted in my mind is your « secular » legacy which allows a film like that to go unchallenged, at least on an intellectual plane. For if such a film had been made, say in Britain, showing how wrong it is to hang on to the Falkland islands, a tiny territory thousand of miles away from the British isles, or an American film on the selfish interests which motivated the US during the Gulf war, and how thousands of innocent Iraqis still suffer today because of the embargo, you can be sure it would have triggered a public outcry.

I know that you deeply loved your country and that you did your best to apply sincerely the ideals you held as most suitable to its problems, but ultimately the marxist-inspired secularism that you imposed on India, has done a tremendous harm, because it has perverted the perception of its citizens. What is wrong, like encouraging separatism in the name of secularism, appears here to be right. What is right, such as the requirement that all citizens of India, regardless of their religion or ethnic origin, observe the same laws, is deemed wrong, whereas in other countries in the world it seems perfectly logical. Today this so-called secularism has taken hold amongst the elite of India, those who fashion the minds of their countrymen, the bureaucrats, journalists, writers, artists, businessmen, film directors. Thus, Maachis is a true legacy of yours, as it tries to makes us believe, however artistically, in an untruth, a falsehood, a deception. Once more dear Jawarlhal, I apologise for having taken so much of your time and I hope you didn’t mind my putting across so forcefully my point of view.