“There is a greater power” - Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan) tells this to her teenage son Dilip, who is heavily influenced by A R Rahman in Mission Mangal. He thinks converting to Islam will make him a sensation just like his guru. At a time when lynchings are spreading like an epidemic, minorities are being persecuted and forced to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, it is no surprise that quite a few shrieks have elicited from such an aspiration, that too from the youth of the country.
Let me give you the context. No sooner had the film released than columnist and author Sanjay Dixit took to Twitter, calling Akshay Kumar an “Islamist proselytiser”. He also cited some instances wherein apparently Tara’s son converts to Islam, grows a beard, offers Namaz and refers to Lord Ganesha as “useless”.
Guess what? The tweet acted like a magnet and the hashtag #BoycottMissionMangal went viral within seconds. Others, too, echoed the same sentiment - that Mission Mangal has “abused Hinduism”.
However, the film does nothing of that sort. From the onset, we see Dilip being snubbed by his Islamophobic father because he discovers a Quran in the boy’s bedroom. One shock leads to the other as Dilip prefers to offer Namaz rather than perform puja, listens to Sufi music and exclaims Inshallah when an Ooty trip gets cancelled. However, Tara confides in her senior Rakesh (Akshay Kumar) that he does all these because his mentor A R Rahman, too, had converted to Islam.
As for insulting Ganesha, let me state the facts. In every nook and corner of Tara’s home are idols or photos of gods and goddesses. A very religious Tara also ensures that a priest is stationed inside the ISRO headquarters to chant mantras and break coconuts just before any satellite is launched. So, when the Mars Mission hits an unexpected obstacle, she naturally leans to the “greater powers” for support. Dilip asks her to pray to Allah instead of Ganesha, to which Tara replies, “You can pray to any God you want, but it’s important that you pray to the power and not the photo”.
Last but not the least is the offence that some people took to Sharman Joshi’s character, a Brahmin who freezes when there is a “dosh” (fault) in his kundali. There are obvious stereotypes to this characterization, but it does not have any relation to Dilip.
Every book adds to our knowledge, a beard cannot be an identification tag for a religion, prayers should be the source of comfort and peace and music should be all-encompassing.
Why don’t we broaden our approach? Yes, Dilip does grow a beard, reads the Quran. offers Namaz and draws inspiration from Sufi songs. However, every book adds to our knowledge, a beard cannot be an identification tag for a religion, prayers should be the source of comfort and peace and music should be all-encompassing. Radicalism can only lead to hate and nothing else.