Shunning the inclusive approach, Hindi film narratives are busy promoting aggressive nationalism and Islamophobia and are demonising left-leaning liberals before India votes this summer 

A poster for ‘Fighter’


A female police officer vowing to eliminate left-leaning liberals that support the rights of tribals on natural wealth, a fighter pilot eager to occupy Pakistan, and a news anchor desperate to put out the truth of the fire in Sabarmati Express at Godhra station in 2002. The images of aggressive nationalism, Islamophobia, and the ‘Red Scare’ are wafting into theatres to build public opinion against the political opponents of the ruling dispensation.

As it seeks a third term, cinema halls are turning into rallying points for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to help create the mahaul (political atmosphere) in its favour. The notification of election is yet to be made and parties and alliances are still being broken and forged but a section of the film industry has already declared its manifesto and is indulging in dog-whistle politics.

A far cry from the stated credo of inclusivity defined by sabka saath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas, historical events, it seems, are being skewed to fit a particular communal narrative by dividing communities into monolithic groups of heroes and villains based on religious and ideological identity. The spaces and issues that are contested or have existed for years in a grey zone are being insidiously turned into a black-and-white contrast that suits a political narrative.

The chronology of the release dates tells a story. Since January, every other week we have a film that reflects the ruling dispensation’s thrust on a contentious issue, stated or otherwise. Hrithik Roshan’s Fighter took a shot at the promised Akhand Bharat while reimagining the Pulwama attack and the subsequent Balakot strike. Yami Gautam’s Article 370 explained the government’s vision of Naya Kashmir where peace is earned through the bullet and not negotiated through the back channel diplomacy. This week, Adah Sharma’s Bastar: The Naxal Story is holding left liberals, which the party leaders often describe as urban Naxals, to account for the Maoist insurgency.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here.