By Pooja Biraia Jaiswal 

On March 10, the trailer of Anubhav Sinha’s Bheed was released. Shot entirely in monochrome, it told the story of the 2020 lockdown and its devastating impact on thousands of migrant workers. It pulled no punches as it laid bare caste and class equations and apathy from the top. Within three days, the trailer was pulled. A meeker one came up, scrubbed clean of the “controversial” references. First to go was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of the lockdown. Then the visuals showing the police raining lathis on migrant workers. By the time the film released, there were 13 additional modifications and cuts―all references to the government were removed. The film lost its essence.

The tragedy is that one cannot make a film in Bollywood with a Hindu-Muslim romance in today’s India. ―Swara Bhasker, actor
Do you think there should have been a Nazi point of view in Schindler’s List? It has to be only the victim’s point of view. ―Vivek Agnihotri, director, The Kashmir Files
I don’t see any problem if someone wants to make a pro-government film. All films should compete in the open market. ―Sudhir Mishra, director

For Sinha, known for making films “with a voice”, like Mulk and Article 15, this was heartbreaking. “The biggest risk was telling the story of the tragedy itself, but that was the very reason I wanted to make this film,” he said. “You should not brush misfortunes under the rug. I make the film that I want to make and feel intensely about it. Making a film and completing it is in itself an accomplishment (these days). The other half of the accomplishment is making a film exactly the way you want to because there is so much that goes on.”

This “so much that goes on” includes, more and more so, a push to make films that align with the ideology of the ruling class.

In the past two years, the Hindi film industry has churned out more than 20 films that feature, if not promote, the majoritarian narrative. This covers concepts like nationalism and hindutva, and includes films such as The Kashmir Files, Samrat Prithviraj, Ram Setu, Code Name: Tiranga and Brahmastra Part One: Shiva.

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