I initially titled this post “Indian Films Are Mostly Unfriendly to Muslims.” But I started listing Indian films that portray Muslims in a good light and films that portray them in a bad light, the numbers came out fairly even. So I am completely changing my argument and saying that Muslims are portrayed in both a good light and a bad light in Indian films.
Some films that portray Muslims in a neutral or good light are:
(I’ve included films that portray both negative and positive Muslim characters as these are neutral and show that all Muslims are not the same)
- Delhi 6
- My Name is Khan
- Well Done Abba
- A Wednesday: Muslims represented as good and bad
- Vedam (Telugu): Muslims represented as good and bad
- New York: represented as good and bad
- Chak De India
- Jodha Akhbar
Some films that portray Muslims in a bad light:
- My Name is Anthony Gonsalves: all of the Muslim characters in the film are underworld dons
- Magadheera (Telugu): there is a scene where the commander of the Muslim army refers to his army as the “army of the devil.” This is a perfect example of giving negative messages through films
- Sahasam (Telugu): Muslim characters are terrorists
- Once Upon A Time in Mumbai (and sequel): Muslim characters are underworld dons
- Vishwaroop (Tamil): Muslims portrayed as terrorists
- Agneepath: Main Muslim character is negative
- Kurbaan: Muslim characters are terrorists
- Thuppakki (Tamil): Muslim characters are terrorists.
There is a tendency in films that portray Muslims in a bad light to show them as terrorists or underworld dons. Terrorism is the most common used subject in films with Muslim characters.
It’s great to see films that show Muslims in a good light. I hope to see more of these films. I wish that there were more Muslim characters in Indian films that are not about terrorism or the mafia. Examples already exist, for example, Ali in Dhoom and Imraan in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. In these films, the only thing pointing out the religious background of the characters are their names.
Cinema, like all arts, should be welcoming and friendly to all groups and beliefs. It’s great to make films on social issues and real life events. But cinema should be balanced and objective as much as possible because it is a far more effective medium than people realize. I believe that through films, we receive many messages about people and about the world that become a part of our subconscious. We may not even realize that these changes are occurring within us. Stereotyping of groups in films is very dangerous and will have severe consequences. It’s a clear threat to social unity and must be avoided.
So I urge everyone here, whether you are a non-Muslim or Muslim to please avoid films where people are stereotyped or insulted. It doesn’t matter which group we’re talking about. If we continue to watch these films, filmmakers will never understand that they are doing something wrong. Cinema and the arts is a reflection of the society we live in and I wish all societies to be open and welcoming to every citizen regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Let’s not be democratic or free in name only. The actions of every single one of us make a difference.