The entertainment industry has long since stopped being solely about entertainment and certainly has as much to do with propaganda these days. Targeted mockery and insults directed towards the Hindu faith has been the norm rather than the exception with a simultaneous veneration of everything Islamic. Such familiar sights were visible in the rendition of ‘Kabuliwala’ in the ‘Stories by Rabindranath Tagore’ series by Anurag Basu. The series does not appear to be an original Netflix content and seems to have been made available first on Epic On.
In one of the scenes, a complete departure from the story-line, ‘Mini’, the little girl in the story, starts offering Namaz because her friend, the Kabuliwala, had not come to meet her for a few days. The scene shows her praying to the ‘God of Kabuliwala’ so that her friend would come to meet her soon.
The original story by Tagore, based on which the show has been made, does not mention anything about a Hindu girl offering namaz. The makers of the show inserted it on their own. There does not appear to be any justification for force-fitting such a narrative into the adaptation of the story, apart from petty political agenda.
I am generally enjoying the ‘Stories by Rabindranath Tagore’ series by Anurag Basu on Netflix. Was watching ‘Kabuliwala’ yesterday. This particular scene, however, struck me as odd.— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) September 19, 2020
The little girl, Mini, begins doing Namaz because Kabuliwala hasn’t turned up for a few days + pic.twitter.com/GQevbE7ODQ
Propaganda has always been an integral feature of the entertainment industry. Edward Bernays, the father of modern propaganda, once remarked, “The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today.” After all these years, however, it cannot be said the entertainment industry is an unconscious carrier of propaganda.
While ‘Stories by Rabindranath Tagore’ portrays Hindu children performing Namaz, one of Netflix’s soon to be released movies invented fake anti-Brahmin quotes and attributed it to Infosys founder Narayan Murthy. Then there have been shows such as Ghoul and Leila which openly target the religious sentiments of Hindus.
For the sake of communal harmony, it appears permissible to trample upon the sentiments of the Hindu community but small gestures of reciprocal tolerance hardly ever make it to the shows of Netflix. Issuing sermons to the Hindu community and spreading propaganda of one sided tolerance appears to be a feature of the entertainment industry and not a bug.