Bollywood used to honor India’s secular ideals but, since the rise of Narendra Modi, it’s been flooded with the stock of Hindu heroes and Muslim villains.
- The use of film as a tool for propaganda is not a new concept and has been employed by governments and other organizations throughout history. During World War II, for example, both the Axis and Allied powers used film to promote their respective ideologies and to demonize the enemy. In the United States, Hollywood produced numerous films like Inglorious Bastards, The Great Dictator, that diabolized the Nazis and Japanese. While in Nazi Germany, films and documentaries like “The Hereditary Defective” were made to glorify Aryan race and demonize Jews, Blacks and other minority groups. In the Cold War era, the Soviet Union and the United States also used film as a tool for propaganda. Soviet films often depicted capitalist societies as corrupt and exploitative, while American films often portrayed communist societies as oppressive and inhumane.
In more recent times, governments and other organizations continue to use film as a tool for propaganda, either to promote a particular ideology or to shape public opinion on a specific issue. The use of film in this way can be controversial, as it can be seen as an attempt to manipulate the audience and control the narrative. It’s important to note that not all films are propaganda, sometimes they are made for entertainment purposes.
Bollywood used to be the largest film industry of the South Asia. Its viewership transcended borders. Its stars are liked alike throughout the Indian subcontinent. But hinduization of Bollywood not only degraded the content but also fragmented the societal fabric. In recent times, Telugu cinema (Tollywood), Tamil cinema (Kollywood) and Punjabi cinema (Punjwood) are overshadowing Bollywood’s monopoly. Bollywood is losing the race just because of their hatemongering.
In recent times, Bollywood films have spread negative stereotypes of Muslims and other minority groups. Some films have also been accused of promoting Hindu nationalist ideologies. These films are usually made by certain individuals or groups who have their own agendas and ideologies.
It’s important to note that like any other industry, Bollywood is not immune to the influence of politics, culture, and societal issues, and these factors can shape the way certain subjects are portrayed in films. However, it’s also important to remember that most Bollywood films perpetuate negative stereotypes and there are few films that promote diversity and inclusivity.
Movies like ‘Padmavat’, ‘Lipstick under my Burqa’, and ‘Tanhaji’, The Kashmir Files, Ham Do Humare Barah , Sooryavanshi, Mission Majnu, and Bard of Blood projects Muslims and Pakistan to be villains, violent, barbaric, oppressive, harsh, abusive, uncivilized, or indecent. As the famous author, Robert Mckee puts it, ‘storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world’. The Hindi cinema is using, rather than misusing the power it wields as one of the highest-earning entertainment industries in India to misinform its viewers about Islam and Muslims.
Along with other state institutions, private organizations, and Social, electronic, and print media companies, Bollywood is also controlled by radical Hindu supremacists and used to promote hate against Muslims. In the past Bollywood had been a diverse and multifaceted industry with many different actors, directors, and producers making films that cover a wide range of subjects and perspectives.
It’s important for audiences to be critical of the media they consume and consider the perspectives and motivations of the people behind the productions. One way to counter propaganda in films, movies, dramas, and seasons is to promote critical thinking and media literacy. This can be done by encouraging viewers to question the information presented, fact-check claims, and consider multiple perspectives. Additionally, providing alternative narratives and media that offer a different viewpoint can help counter the influence of propaganda. Supporting independent media and creators can also be an effective way to counter propaganda.Note:Abdul Rehman is a Researcher at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) AJK.