The success of Sooryavanshi starring Akshay Kumar, Ranveer Singh, and Ajay Devgn has rattled the left-liberal journalists of the country. However, no one could have imagined Washington Post – once a highly regarded newspaper publishing an article on the movie, with its intern Rana Ayyub penning it.
Reportedly, Rana furnished a feature-length article titled “Why an Indian film’s success at the box office should worry us all” in the publication with her usual “Hindu bad, Muslims oppressed” stale trope. She argued that the film attempts to discriminate against the Hindus by writing, “Sooryavanshi is one of the most successful films in India after the covid-19 lockdowns were eased. Its success contributes to the climate of hate and discrimination that India’s estimated 200 million Muslims must face everyday.”
She further adds, “Every third frame of the film is a bloodcurdling Islamophobic image. While an upper-class Hindu character played by Kumar gives lessons in patriotism, the Muslim antagonist responds with hate. He is ungrateful, with a long beard and skull cap. Each time the protagonist sermonizes the Indian Muslim to fall in line, the audience in the theater where I saw the film whistled and applauded.”
Hindu bad, Muslim good: Rana Ayyub
While Rana brushed everyone present in the hall with the same brush of communalism by tagging them as fascism enablers, she perhaps forgot that the audience, unlike her, perhaps, just wanted to watch mindless cinema without worrying about any Social Justice Activism tropes.
They went to the cinema hall to watch a quintessential Bollywood masala flix, not an indie movie with carpet weaving by a weary craftsman in the lost-forlorn village of Uttar Pradesh as the theme of the movie.
The audience wanted to watch a masala flix
Rana Ayyub is a graduate from the same school of intellectual leaders who believe that all Hindus are inherently oppressors and thus the Savarana Hindu producers, directors, and actors who created the movie and acted in the movie are only out to the bay for the blood of Muslims or present them in an evil light.
No, if our Bollywood was indeed so smart, it would still not be having connections with the underworld. It would not be stuck with the masala flix formula. Every single cinema-watcher across the country understands that such movies are problematic on several layers but again, the target, niche audience relishes such entertainment.
Rana clearly was agitated at the movie when it showcased the abrogation of article 370 in a positive light, “The film does not even pretend to mask its agenda — which is the right-wing Hindu nationalist agenda of Modi’s government. It justifies the abrogation of the special status accorded to Kashmir, where thousands of youth were detained and an Internet blackout was imposed in 2019. Like the government, the film argues that the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution has wiped out terrorism from the valley.”
Our previous three movies had bad Hindus, why wasn’t it a problem?: Rohit Shetty
While Rana was busy penning her rant in WaPo, director Rohit Shetty, currently on the press tour of his movie took a Quint journalist to the cleaners for her attempt to create sensational controversy, akin to Rana Ayyub.
A Quint journalist named Abira Dhar questioned Shetty regarding the perennial question of good-Muslim and bad-Muslim. She asked, “There has been a few pointers put out criticizing the good Muslim and bad Muslim concept. So in the film, we have seen how Muslims have been portrayed in a good and a bad way. But it is seen to be problematic, in a sense that..”
Sensing where the reporter was trying to lead him, Shetty cut her short and remarked, “If I ask you one question… Jaikant Shikre (in Singham) was a Hindu Marathi. Then a second film came where a Hindu godman was there. Then in Simba, Durva Ranade was a Maharashtrian again. In these three, negative forces were Hindu, why isn’t that a problem?”
— Shashank Shekhar Jha (@shashank_ssj) November 14, 2021
Shetty shut her for good by giving another example and simultaneously taking a jibe at the ilk of such journalists, “If there is a terrorist who is from Pakistan, what caste will he be? We are not talking about the caste. It changed my point of view of a few journalists whom I used to like. That oh, they are portraying it like I have seen in brackets somebody writing bad Muslims being preached by upper-caste Hindus, which is very wrong. We never thought that way.”
There are a plethora of Bollywood movies released every year where Hindus are presented in an extremely distasteful way and yet you wouldn’t find such op-eds in western publications. Movies are simply about escapism from the whims and cruelties of the world. The sooner Rana realizes it, the better will be her cinema-watching experience.