The over-simplistic categorisation of Muslims in movies, where the majority is presumed to be terrorists or their sympathisers, is fraught with double standards.
As Priyanka Chopra issued an apology via Twitter Saturday for hurting Indian sentiments in the latest episode of her US television series Quantico, she brought to light, once again, the hypocritical outlook Indians have, especially when the majority community is concerned. The episode ‘The Blood of Romeo’ showed a plot involving Indian Hindu terrorists.
The actress not just expressed regret over hurting “sentiments”, but also emphasised her nationality in an attempt to prove her loyalty to her country.
“I’m extremely saddened and sorry that some sentiments have been hurt by a recent episode of Quantico. That was not and would never be my intention. I sincerely apologise. I’m a proud Indian and that will never change.”
I’m extremely saddened and sorry that some sentiments have been hurt by a recent episode of Quantico. That was not and would never be my intention. I sincerely apologise. I'm a proud Indian and that will never change.
— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) June 9, 2018
While the possibility that Hindu extremism exists might seem unfathomable to majority of Indians, we seem to have no issues associating the Muslim community with terrorism and violence.
Bollywood’s muscle man of the 90s, Sunny Deol, delivered most of his hits labelling Muslims and Pakistanis as the evil that plots to hurt India.
A film like ‘Jaal: The Trap’ displayed the protagonist’s Hindu identity (forward video to 10.23) in an overwhelming fashion. Every time Sunny Deol outsmarted the terrorists, ‘Om Namah Shivay’ would play in the background. His wife, played by Tabu, who ends up betraying him is revealed to be, yes you guessed it right, a Muslim.
In ‘The Hero: Love Story of a Spy’, Priyanka Chopra, incidentally, plays the only positive Muslim character in the movie. Her character, Shaheen, is the daughter of one of the main villains. Not only does Deol use her to get to her father, she ends up dead trying to help him defeat the bad guys.
Various Muslim groups had protested against objectionable scenes in Sunny Deol’s blockbuster ‘Gadar: Ek Prem Katha’. Sunny Deol didn’t apologise to the community rather the movie rode high on success, benefitting from the controversies.
This over-simplistic categorisation of Muslims in binaries of good and evil, with majority falling on the evil side and presumed to be terrorists or their sympathisers, highlights the double standards in our nationalism.
This is the brand of nationalism we seem to be comfortable with where we wouldn’t blink before throwing Muslims under the bus.
If art is meant to imitate life, then we need to stop and contemplate on the shame and harassment we subject the minority community to, through patriotic and commercial cinema.
If the Hindu community deserves Priyanka Chopra’s apology for portraying them in such a negative light, one has to start counting the number of apologies Sunny Deol owes to our Muslim brethren.