Film director Kabir Khan, who directed films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Tubelight, Sultan, New York and others, was recently heard defending the monstrosity of a people that the Mughals were. Speaking unapologetically, Khan aimed films and producers who sought to, according to him, portray the Mughals in a bad light. Kabir Khan, in his endeavour to defend the Mughal marauders, ended up referring to them as “nation builders,” as though Indians today should be thankful to them for mass murdering Indic communities and forcing non-Muslims to convert to Islam. Khan also alleged that the negative portrayal of Mughals is made ‘just to go with the popular narrative’ and none of it is based on ‘historical evidence’.
Kabir Khan seems to be impoverished in terms of knowledge, which is the only excuse that one can provide for his ignorance towards Mughal atrocities and the sheer barbarity of their empire towards non-Muslims. The director was quoted by Bollywood Hungama as saying, “I find it hugely problematic and disturbing, because what really makes me upset is that it’s being done just to go with the popular narrative. I can understand when a filmmaker has researched something and a filmmaker wants to make a point… Of course, there can be different viewpoints. If you want to demonise the Mughals, please base it on some research and make us understand why; why they were the villains that you think they were. Because if you do some research and read history, it’s very tough to understand why they have to be villainised.”
Shockingly, the man then went on to say, “I think they were the original nation-builders, and to write them off and say they murdered people… But what are you basing it on? Please point out the historical evidence. Please have an open debate, just don’t go with the narrative that you think will be popular.”
The director, who has earned a reputation for pushing pro-Pakistan narratives in his films also said, “It’s the easiest thing today, demonising the Mughals and various other Muslim rulers that India had at different points in its history. Trying to fit them into preconceived stereotypes, it is distressing. I cannot respect those films, unfortunately. That’s my personal opinion, of course, I can’t speak for larger audiences, but I definitely get upset by those kind of portrayals.”
Kabir Khan has directed films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Ek Tha Tiger– and the common theme among them is their subtle portrayal of Pakistanis as good people, who earn a bad name only because of those in power. Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s plot revolves around a Hanuman devotee Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi’s journey from India to escort a six-year-old mute Pakistani girl back to her village. The role of Pawan is played by Salman Khan. The film made no secret of the fact that Indians and Pakistanis are divided only by politics. Bajrangi Bhaijaan ended up demonstrating the potential common people have for achieving lasting peace in the region. The only catch, however, is that the film is fictional, and nothing of the sort can ever happen in reality. Nevertheless, there was no stopping Kabir Khan from trying to build bridges between India and Pakistan with the film.
In the film Ek Tha Tiger too, Kabir Khan tried his best to achieve a geopolitical utopia between India and Pakistan. A RAW agent played by Salman Khan falls in love with an ISI agent played by Katrina Kaif. After a gruelling crisis, they both abandon their careers and elope. Salman Khan then calls his boss at the agency to tell him that he and his partner/girlfriend will return to their countries only after India and Pakistan no longer require RAW and ISI – which is a classic dream of the Aman ki Asha brigade.
The point is, Kabir Khan’s fascination with Pakistan and now, his love for the Mughals points towards his ideology, which is anything but in sync with the national interest. Big Budget Indian movies are aimed at making overseas earnings. Movies that show Indians and Pakistanis behaving like sole-brothers and depict Pakistan as essentially a good country with good people would fetch the much-needed money from Pakistani pockets. A textbook case of pure business. Kabir Khan’s outpour of admiration for the Mughals may very well be a business tactic too. Nothing can be ruled out in Bollywood.