‘Eminent intellectual’ Aatish Taseer has chosen to blame Narendra Modi for the trio of Big Khans losing their preeminence in Bollywood. He sees their presumed fall as part of the NDA Government’s efforts to bring about a cultural change in the film industry.
One would have thought that they have fallen from grace due to the disastrous movie that have starred in recently. However, Aatish Taseer, quite clearly, has rather exotic opinions. Before proceeding to dismantle his arguments bit by bit, let us take a look at the recent movies Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan have featured in.
Aamir Khan’s last big movie was ‘Thugs of Hindostan’ which bombed at the Box Office spectacularly and was canned by critics and the audience alike. SRK’s last release was ‘Zero’ and that was the score the majority of the audience gave the movie out of 10.
Salman Khan, meanwhile, appeared in ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’ this year, which received such a stellar review from critic Kamaal R Khan that it appears to have prompted the ‘most wanted Bhai’ to file a case against him.
But according to Taseer here, it’s because of Narendra Modi that the three have fallen off their perch. Prime Minister Modi, like God, appears to work in mysterious ways, which in this case, appears to be through some weird psychic intervention to convince the Khans to feature in such disastrous misadventures.
Aatish Taseer accuses PM Modi of trying to bring Bollywood in line
Aatish Taseer writes in his article for The Atlantic, “Bollywood’s influence stretches well beyond India. The BJP knows this, and wants to bring it into line.” He accuses the NDA administration of waging a ‘War on Bollywood’.
In the article, he cites Kangana Ranaut as part of this ‘war’. But Ranaut, as it is, is a lone voice who raises any objection at all to the dominance of the Left clique in the industry. And Taseer, the son of a late Governor of Pakistan, cannot even tolerate that. Even so, her stardom has nothing to do with the current government as her career demonstrates.
She has delivered hits and won multiple awards even before Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. Her stardom has nothing to do with politics just as the fall of the Khans have nothing to do with politics either.
He claims further, “There is a heartbreaking inevitability to the confrontation between Bollywood and Modi’s BJP. Modi does not view India as a composite culture, to which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians have all contributed, but rather as an essentially Hindu entity whose destiny lies in bringing about a Hindu cultural renaissance.”
He also claims, “The BJP has a very different origin story. The party began in the 1980s as the political face of an organization called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The RSS was founded in 1925, at a time when European fascist movements were gaining ground. Its early leaders, men such as M. S. Golwalkar, whose birthday the Modi government recently celebrated with a Twitter announcement, brimmed with regard for Nazi Germany.”
It’s an extremely convenient ruse for Taseer to harp on about Indians allegedly having regard for Nazi Germany. Apart from being a gross mischaracterization, it also ignores the fact that Adolf Hitler, before his fallout with others, used to be quite popular in the Western World. Hitler was even declared the Time Magazine’s ‘Man of the year’ at one point. Therefore, to slander Hindus over it is nothing short of libel.
The true face of Bollywood
Once again, Taseer is playing victim while holding a knife to the neck of his political adversary; metaphorically, of course. The fact of the matter is, Bollywood is as anti-Hindu as ever. Stars such as Swara Bhasker and Tapsee Pannu continue to prosper in Bollywood despite their antics.
Web Series such as Ghoul, Tandav and Sacred Games continue to be made at a breakneck pace. The likes of Anurag Kashyap continue to wield major influence in the movie industry. Mahesh Bhatt continues to be a major player.
Thus, the assumption that Bollywood has suddenly undergone some major ideological transformation does not conform to actual realities. While it is true that the movie industry has attempted to capitalise on the rising nationalist fervour across the country with movies such as ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’ and ‘Kesari’, it is purely an economic decision rather than ideological reorientation.
The absence of ideological reorientation is further confirmed by the fact that celebrities resort to meaningless virtue-signaling during Hindu festivals but refrain from such antics on other occasions.
Furthermore, it was only recently that Deepika Padukone, one of the leading stars of Bollywood, made an appearance at JNU to lend her support to anti-Government protesters, without any damage to her career.
The Rise of ‘Woke’ narratives
Simultaneously, there is also the rise of radical Ambedkarites in the entertainment industry. Only recently, numerous stand-up comedians were either forced to delete their tweets or issue an apology over the same.
Also, there is greater influence of ‘Woke’ politics in the entertainment industry, with numerous web series and movies getting made with decidedly ‘woke’ undertones and some with even decidedly ‘Woke’ themes.
Aatish Taseer here chooses to ignore all of that and conjure a mythical scenario where Bollywood has undergone an ideological shift during the current administration. He also manages to whitewash ‘Bombay Begums’, another web series with extremely problematic scenes.
NCPCR, the child rights body, took objection to scenes that showed minors as young as 13 or 14 taking drugs. There were also scenes that attempted normalise children sending nude photographs of themselves to others.
But Taseer sees objection to such scenes as ‘Hindutva’ as well. Quite clearly, the narrative he seeks to peddle is motivated by his own personal agenda against the government rather than any objective sense of reality.
He is once again playing victim even as ‘Woke’ ideology continues to dominate the entertainment industry. He is playing the victim card so that his ideological compatriots can use the imagined victimhood to further ostracise voices such as Kangana Ranaut from the industry.
The real reason, of course, why the Khan are faring so poorly currently is that the audience wants better movies and greater variety. Meanwhile, OTT platforms provide a better range of products and in this new era, age is not on their side. They are growing old and everything has to come to an end one day. Seeing conspiracy behind such natural development is a sign of an unhealthy mentality.