We have yet another Bollywood movie spreading Islamophobia. Are you surprised? Rohit Shetty’s latest blockbuster, Sooryavanshi, has entered the 100 crore club, which is a huge achievement for the makers for sure. However, one does expect the makers to be mindful when portraying a certain religion, caste, or country when producing content for such a large audience.
Sooryavanshi Faces Backlash
Sooryavanshi is under fire on social media for having Islamophobic elements in its storyline. Rana Ayyub, a writer for The Washington Post, points this out in her article. She stated, “The film stokes the dangerous ‘love jihad’ conspiracy, which paints Muslim men as colluding to seduce or kidnap Hindu women or girls and convert them to Islam. But other Islamophobic tropes are the center of the film,”
“One of the biggest films that is making waves in Indian theatres, is yet another exercise in criminal Islamophobia that seeks to normalise Narendra Modi’s anti Muslim agenda,” Rana Ayyub tweeted.
British actor and rapper, Riz Ahmed seems to agree with Rana Ayyub. He retweeted her article with a “disgusted” emoji. The actor has always been vocal about his disagreement with how Muslim characters are portrayed in films.
Moreover, Pakistani actress, Mehwish Hayat also took to Twitter to voice her disappointment. She wrote, “Sooryavanshi” is the latest film in Bollywood promoting islamophobia. The tide is turning in Hollywood & I hope that across the border they will also follow suit. As I’ve said, if not positive depictions, at least be fair in the way that you show Muslims. Build bridges not hatred!”
President Arif Alvi said, “Dangerous for India. In this Islamophobic hatred India will destroy itself, no less. I hope & pray that sane elements within Indian society prevent this. Milton Kandera wrote that ‘the first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture.”
Here’s What Rohit Shetty Has To Say
While speaking to The Quint, Rohat Shetty clarified that the film’s intention was not to single out a certain religion. He also raised a question as to why Hindu villains in his films didn’t spark controversies.
He asked, “If I ask you one question, Jaikant Shikre (in Singham) was a Hindu Marathi. Then in Simmba, Durva Ranade was a Maharashtrian. The negative forces were Hindu but why isn’t that a problem?”
The movie stars one of the biggest stars of Bollywood; Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Ranveer Singh, and Ajay Devgan. Each of these actors is widely known and appreciated. It makes one wonder how big of an influence Sooryavanshi’s Islamophobic elements would have on their millions of followers and hurt the sentiments of their Muslim fans.
Moreover, it is startling to see how well Sooryanshi is doing at the box office (according to Indian media & Twitter). The fact that it is doing so well in India speaks volumes about how leadership has altered the audiences’ mindsets. This is an extremely worrisome trend and like Mehwish Hayat aptly stated, slowly but surely this trend is changing in Hollywood, and we hope our neighbors also take inspiration from it and move beyond this trend.
What are your thoughts? Let us know.
Sources used in this article include: The Express Tribune