If Netflix Is Anti-Hindu, Are All Bollywood Films Anti-Muslim?

Do some shows strengthen stereotypes?

Published06 Sep 2019, 05:27 PM IST
2 min read

Recently, Shiv Sena member Ramesh Solanki filed a complaint against digital media content house Netflix for streaming what he deems is ‘anti-hindu’ content. Naming shows like 'Leila', 'Ghoul', 'Sacred Games' and Hasan Minhaj specials, he accused Netflix of trying to "paint an incorrect picture of Hindus and India globally."

Shiv Sena man has alleged that shows like <i>Ghoul </i>&amp; <i>Leila </i>‘promote hinduphobic content’.
Shiv Sena man has alleged that shows like Ghoul & Leila ‘promote hinduphobic content’.
(Photo: The Quint)

Whether the content is a reflection of, or the root of societal narratives, is yet another debate. And while it would be unfair to say that these shows do not seem to attack an apparent extremist uprising of Hindu nationalism, we must ask ourselves why only this content is offending us. If it is about how minorities are being presented in popular media - can we even begin to imagine how Muslims feel?

From time immemorial, Muslims have played - you guessed it - the terrorist. And if odds are in the Muslim characters favour, at best they’ll play a poet or a courtesan. Representation of Islam and Muslims in general could not be more parochial. But it is not just limited to Indian content - a number of international shows are laced with Islamophobic undertones and narratives.

What I’m saying is simple: it is good to debate whether certain content can further deepen communal divide and strengthen racist stereotypes, but to do so only when it is convenient is problematic, to say the least. We cannot pick and choose which people deserve to be saved, we cannot be filled with indignation only when it’s about the majority.

Muslims have so far been ridiculed by popular culture and portrayed in a bad light that they have stopped caring about it. It is the least of our concerns. If three or four shows can hurt majority sentiment to this extent, why do we not think about our fellow countrymen? What’s the point of democracy if we pick and choose who can tell their stories, and who has to be subjected to censorship? If we cannot honestly draw a just line of standards for our content, then we might as well stop and see content for what it is - a simple show.

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