Tata Group’s Tanishq jewellery took down an advertisement which showed an interfaith couple where the Muslim family had organised a ‘god-bharai’ (baby shower) function for their Hindu daughter in law. Social media users were outraged at the glorification of ‘love jihad’ theme.
Many self-proclaimed seculars then rushed to wonder if Tanishq would have faced the backlash if the daughter in law as a Muslim.
Would Tanishq be facing similar backlash if it had reversed the religions in it’s ad?— meetasengupta (@Meetasengupta) October 12, 2020
Well, the thing is, when such attempts were made in the past, mobs of angry Muslims burnt down cities.
Mani Ratnam’s Bombay
In 1995, legendary filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s Bombay starring Arvind Swami and Manisha Koirala was released. Set in the backdrop of 1992 riots which were triggered after the disputed structure known as ‘Babri Masjid’ was demolished in Ayodhya, Swami played the role of a Hindu journalist and Koirala played the role of a Muslim village girl. The two fall in love and against family wishes get married and move to Mumbai (then Bombay).
The duo get married, have twins whom they raise in both religions. Except, that’s when the riots break out. After a lot of emotional moments, the film eventually ends with a ‘human chain’. It was a perfect ‘liberal’-approved ending to a ‘secular’ love story. But, things didn’t pan out as planned.
Mani Ratnam’s Bombay faced backlash from Muslim community
Muslim leaders associate with organisations like Raza Academy, which was later accused of being involved in 2011 Azad Maidan riots, and Muslim League had protested against the release of the film. The situation was so tense that they had to be given a special screening of the film before its official release. Muslim leaders had alleged that the interfaith love story insulted the culture and religion of Muslims. The then general secretary of Raza Academy Ibrahim Tai had said that Muslims believe Hindu-Muslim marriage is ‘illegitimate’.
Noted lyricist Javed Akhtar, who likes to identify himself as an atheist, had sided with the Muslim leaders who wanted certain changes in the film. “I believe that any film passed by the censors should be released. But Ratnam has abdicated his right by having his product censored by Thackeray. So, he might as well get it censored by some mullas,” he had said back then.
Shiv Sena and Bal Thackeray on Mani Ratnam’s Bombay
The film had a character that was inspired from Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray. Like many other films that require the Thackerays’ and Shiv Sena’s seal of approval before seeing light of the day, Bombay, too needed Thackeray’s blessings. The character which had been shown as main instigator of riots was shown to be repenting later at the havoc that had been created. Thackeray reportedly got the scene altered. “I regret nothin,” he had then reportedly said.
The same Shiv Sena is currently the ray of hope for ‘secular-liberals’ because it is in opposition of the BJP.
Bombay triggered protests by Muslim groups across India
It was not only in Mumbai or Maharashtra where Mani Ratnam’s Bombay triggered protests. Thane, Bhopal, Hubli, Meerut – the screening had to be stayed. A bomb was hurled at Mani Ratnam at his house and he was later hospitalised. Radical Muslim group Al-Umah, which had earlier attacked Hindu leaders in Madras (now Chennai) was suspected to be behind the attack.
So, you see, when the religion was reversed, things didn’t just remain limited to social media outrage.