The box-office opening of Baaghi 2, reportedly minting Rs 25.10 crore, has given the makers enough reason to celebrate. However, the opening scene of the Tiger Shroff- and Disha Patani-starrer, is hugely problematic.
The masala entertainer has a scene that is similar to an internationally debated real-life incident from the Kashmir Valley.
In Baaghi 2, Ranveer Pratap Singh aka Ronnie (Tiger Shroff) is an Army Commando in Kashmir who apprehends a man, ties him to the front of his jeep and uses him as a human shield to get through a lane full of stone-pelters.
This is an obvious reference to the April 2017 incident when Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi tied a Kashmiri shawl-weaver Farooq Ahmed Dar to the front of his military jeep and used him as a human shield against an enraged crowd pelting stones at them.
Ronnie’s justification for the “human rights violation” in the movie is that “patthar phekne tak theek tha, par tiranga ko nahi jalana chaiye tha” (I didn’t mind the stone-pelting but when they burned the tricolour, I couldn’t take it).
The film attempts to establish Ronnie as a no-nonsense hyper-nationalist while giving little or no background on the person used as the human shield, leaving it to the audience to assume that he is either a stone-pelter or a separatist.
The glorification of our protagonist’s action in the film is a direct idolisation of Major Gogoi’s stunt-show in real life.
Till date, no evidence has been found that Dar was guilty of any crime when he was tied to the jeep. The army, however, awarded Major Gogoi a commendation card for 'sustained efforts' on counter-insurgency operations.
Even in the movie, the only repercussion that Ronnie ‘the rebel’ has to face is doing 25 rounds of a ground. In short, the scene deviates from the true incident, completely ignores Dar’s backstory and leaves the audience with a one-sided narrative.
Maybe its too much to ask Bollywood to be factually accurate in an age when news channels are struggling to stick to the truth.
Anna Vetticad, in her review, wrote about how the incident plays out:
Ronnie is introduced as an upright, no-nonsense fellow who tied a civilian to a jeep and paraded him around the area as retribution for stone throwing and disrespect to the national flag. The reference is obviously to the real-life Major Leetul Gogoi who, last year, used an innocent civilian, Farooq Ahmad Dar, as a human shield tied to his jeep while he drove through several Kashmiri villages. The state human rights commission declared Gogoi’s act illegal, and there is no evidence till date that Dar was guilty of any crime that day, but the team of Baaghi 2 clearly does not care for facts since pandering to majoritarian sentiments has yielded box-office results for other Bollywood films in recent years.Anna Vetticad, FirstPost
When we meet the film’s hero – the aforementioned indiscreet stalker – he is an Army Commando in Kashmir who ties a man to the front of his jeep and uses him as a human shield. Wow. It is the kind of thing I expected Hindi cinema to tackle at some point, but not in a Tiger Shroff film where his reasoning for this inhumanity is that somebody burned the Indian flag.Raja Sen, NDTV
The Army officer who strapped an innocent Kashmiri man to the front of his vehicle and used him as a human shield in April 2017 has been identified. It wasn’t actually Major Nitin Gogoi, but Tiger Shroff. The Indian media really needs to get its facts straight.Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in
Bollywood’s treatment of the ‘human-shield’ row seems as bad as the way the political class treated it. In May last year, BJP MP Paresh Rawal tweeted that instead of stone-pelters author Arundhati Roy should be tied to an army jeep.
Another BJP leader is selling T-shirts online, promoting the human shield act.