Bollywood Sensibility?

Written by September 25, 2008 1:14 pm 10 comments

Our film industry has been peddling religious nonsense to the masses for decades. So it is somewhat refreshing when a Bollywood star speaks out against the politicization of religion. Aamir Khan, the star of such blockbusters as Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, had this to say at a recent press conference:

People should stay away from politicians and leaders who try to divide the masses on the basis of religion, caste or community .

Granted this is not the most earth-shattering statement to come from a film star’s lips, but for anyone aware of the tensions between the Hindu and Muslim communities in India, such candor from a major Muslim superstar is a welcoming sign of changing times. Bollywood itself, however, does have a long way to go. Everyone growing up in India has been subjected to the not-so-subtle intrusion of religious and other superstitions into almost every popular film.

I’m trying to think of a popular movie in Indian cinema that did NOT contain an endorsement of religion or superstition. It is not easy. So to have some fun, lets hear from you readers if there are particular scenes in popular movies that you thought were exceptionally ridiculous. That’s too easy, isn’t it?

How about a movie that didn’t mention religion at all? As far as I can remember, the Tamil movie Kuruthipunal did not contain references to supernatural beliefs, but I could be wrong. Does anyone else have a non-religious Indian movie pick?

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10 Comments

  • post-theism (or,just as well, post-atheism) movies are premature in a society in which 90% of the top scientists are theists. i would like to see movies that are actively anti-stupidstition, if not also openly anti-religion.

    ‘mr and mrs iyer’ comes to mind as an example of something that portrays religion for what it is (although the more critical among us might say that it was a case of preaching to the converted).

  • errata : post-theist and post-atheist, instead of …ism

  • I just looked up “Mr and mrs Iyer”. Nice pick, I wasnt aware of it. I guess preaching to the converted is a start!

  • Pankaj Kulkarni

    Kamal Hasan is an atheist and some of his recent movies are deal with this subject head on. I’ve seen ‘Anbe Shivam’ (Love is God), a Tamil movie (with English Subtitles) in which he explicity says that he does not believe in God.

    His latest movie ‘Dashavataram’ also deals with this topic and is critices theists directly. I have not seen this yet, but it’s on list. One of my friends, who was a theist, saw Dashavataram and has now become ‘almost’ an atheist (he no longer believes in a personal God, but is not yet willing to call himself an atheist). Dashavataram was released in Hindi as well. Kamal Hasan had plans of releasing it in English and French. I don’t know if he has released them in those languages yet.

  • Good for Kamalhassan! Maybe we can do a review of the movie here.

  • Indian_the_patriot

    Dashavataram has some fallacy in portraying of chaos theory,but overall its a nice movie for Indian standard, which atleast openly criticizing faith. So I am very happy and proud of Kamal for his bold stand against the religious stupidity.

  • Nice article. I guess the tinsel world in India is full of insecurities and it was always a disorganised industry meant to appeal to the masses. Thats the reason for so much religion and superstitions in our movies.

    Its good that Kamal has admitted to being an atheist, and no doubt he is a brilliant chap. But dasavatharam was a horribly made movie with horrendous makeup, chaotic story, direction etc. Very poorly made. Our movies need to deal with the issue with a better quality simpler approach.

  • Amir Khan is right and it is a politically correct statement. But he needs to himself become or declare himself as an atheist. That will be an example of putting his money where his mouth is. But I guess he will be afraid of a fatwa against him !

    Religion is the root of all evil and the division already exists, the politicians are just exploiting it. And they will continue to do so.

  • Ajit, You’re right that it is hard for a Muslim actor to come out as an atheist. On a different note, has anyone seen Phoonk? Here is the storyline: the lead guy is an atheist. Some spooky shit starts to happen in his house and he cant explain it. So, voila, the supernatural exists!
    What really annoyed me is that the director Ram Gopal Verma describes himself as an atheist who has had some unexplainable things happen to him. I would love to see him make a movie about a religious nut who becomes a rationalist because he begins to understand how reality works. The problem is that this will not sell, so he caters to the majority who are superstitious, contributing to the perpetuation of irrationality in India.

  • Wow is that what Phoonk is all about? Its just commerce and nothing to do with the truth! Most Bollywood movies lack substance, its just low quality mass appeal.