Review of Atrangi Re (2021 movie)

It seems that Bollywood is presenting alternate facts in order to camouflage the real ones

Midway during Atrangi Re, lead actress Sara Ali Khan, playing a character named Fatima, tells a friend, “I am a Muslim Pathan girl. He is bhagwadhari Hindu. This is what you call a real love story.”

Don’t be shocked. The film has no such scene.

The real dialogue by Sara Ali Khan, who is playing Rinku Suryavanshi, is: “Hum bataiyein kisse kehte hain love… Hindu Thakur ladki… Aur ye, katai Miyabhai launda. Isse kehte hain love story (Should I tell you what love is…Hindu Thakur girl. And he, a Muslim. This is what you call a real love story).”

Gadar And Bombay

One can well imagine the furore if filmmakers had attempted the first dialogue.

When film Gadar was released in 2001, such was the reaction over its portrayal of relationship between a Sikh man and a Muslim woman that violence erupted in several parts of the country including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

In Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar areas of Gujarat, Muslim rioted in the streets saying, “How can they show a Sikh applying sindoor on the forehead of a Muslim girl? This and many other scenes in the film are calculated to provoke Muslims.”

Muslim groups hurled petrol pouches on the screen of Sangam Theatre, stopping the show.

In Bhopal, a mob of 400 people led by district Youth Congress president Arif Masood used Molotov cocktails, swords, rods and stones to attack a cinema hall.

They torched more than a dozen two-wheelers and smashed 10 cars. A protester tried to sever the arm of a policeman. The rioting went on for two hours.

A few years earlier, similar violence had erupted over the film Bombay. Fanatics threw two bombs at filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s house for portraying romance between a Hindu man and Muslim woman. Mani Ratnam was hospitalised with shrapnel injuries to his leg.

The censor board had held up the film’s release for a month-and-a-half. Once it was released, Hyderabad commissioner ordered it withdrawn from 15 theatres.

Bombay Police delayed the release of the film for a week. In Thane, Muslim teenagers stoned cars to protest the film. Raza Academy general secretary Ibrahim Tai told the media that the film “insults the culture and religion of Muslims”.

Bollywood learnt its lesson and did not attempt a similar theme in many years to come. Indeed, it stayed out of interfaith relationships altogether — until the recent years when there has been, discernibly, a spate of such films.

Hindu Girl-Muslim Lover: The New Trend In Bollywood

Laxmii, Indoo Ki Jawani and Toofaan, all featured Muslim men and Hindu women relationships.

It is a matter of wonder why the film industry has taken a fancy to this theme of late. One cannot miss the fact that all these films have scenes and dialogues that clearly blame Hindus for being ‘intolerant’ to women marrying Muslim men.

In Laxmii, Akshay Kumar playing a character called Arif, tells a child that his wife Rashmi’s Hindu parents are “stuck with Hindu-Muslim even in 21st century.”

In film Indoo Ki Jawani, Indoo Gupta, whose date turns out to be a Pakistani Muslim, is shown to be a bigot for initially rejecting her as a suitable match.

In Toofaan, Paresh Rawal playing father of a Hindu woman in relationship with a Muslim man, is similarly shown to be a bigot who harbours prejudices against Muslims and tells his daughter that she is victim of Love Jihad.

One may also recall here a recent advertisement by jewellery brand Tanishq that similarly showed a Hindu woman’s marriage to a Muslim man.

Bollywood Propaganda Versus Ground Reality

If one looks closely, this zeal of Bollywood in promoting such relationships is running parallel to protests against ‘love jihad’ all across the country.

From Christian groups in southern states to Hindutva groups in northern states to Sikh groups in Kashmir to Buddhist groups in Ladakh, communities have been agitating against Muslim men targeting their daughters for relationships.

They say the men do it for converting the women to Islam and starting a Muslim lineage — allegations levelled by several women themselves.

Many women have filed police cases against Muslim men, accusing them of posing as Hindus for forming relationships with them and later forcing them to convert to Islam. Many women have accused them of forcibly feeding them beef.

Accusations of trapping Hindu women have been made by Muslim residents against local clerics too.

Family of a 21-year-old woman in Haryana, who was shot dead by her stalker Tausif Ahmed put a banner outside their house that said, “Nikita Tomar: Shot dead by Tausif in broad daylight for refusing to convert and marry him”.

What is being shown in Bollywood films has little resemblance with the ground reality. On the other hand, it seems that Bollywood is presenting alternate facts in order to camouflage the real ones.

Atrangi Re, co-produced by Akshay Kumar who also co-produced Laxmii, shows a Hindu family brutally charring to death a Muslim man named Sajjad Ali Khan (played by Akshay) for marrying their daughter and starting a family with her.

The ground reality is just the opposite.

Murders of Hindu men for forming romantic relationships with or marrying Muslim women is way higher than vice versa.

Consider recent cases in national capital alone: Earlier this month, a Hindu man, Dablu Singh, was stabbed to death by relatives of his Muslim girlfriend. Dablu’s mother told Swarajya that the killers had asked him to convert to Islam or forget their daughter.

Less than two kilometres from Dablu’s house, Ankit Saxena was similarly hacked to death by the family of his Muslim girlfriend.

Ten kilometres away, college boy Rahul Rajput was killed by brothers and cousins of his Muslim girlfriend outside his house.

On the outskirts of New Delhi, Dalit man Sanjay Kumar from Faridabad was killed and his penis was chopped by father and brother of his Muslim wife who he had eloped with. Neighbours told Swarajya that the woman’s mother often said she would not let her daughter die a Hindu.

An entire Dalit basti was attacked when a man from their colony eloped with a Muslim woman. Both were adults and had married with consent.

History Of Interfaith Unions

The one-way acceptance of interfaith unions by Islamists was recognised by Dr B R Ambedkar who, in his seminal 1945 book Pakistan, or The Partition of India, wrote, “…The Hindus are right when they say that it is not possible to establish social contact between Hindus and Muslims because such contact can only mean contact between women from one side and men from the other”.

To understand this, one needs to look no further than the Islamic country created after partitioning India in 1947. In Pakistan, where kidnappings and elopements of non-Muslim minor girls and women with Muslim men is an everyday occurrence, one struggles to find even one case where a Muslim woman has married a non-Muslim man without getting him to convert to Islam.

Bollywood actor-producer Raj Kapoor’s first cousin Jugal Kishore Mehta, became Ahmed Salman in order to marry a Pakistani Muslim woman.

Same stands true for Muslim-majority Kashmir within India.

Founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah is himself a case study. Jinnah married 15-year-old Rattanbai Petit amid protests by her father (who was of similar age as Jinnah and hence had no clue about this romance) and condemnation by her Parsi community as well as the Parsi press. However, he forbade his daughter Dina to marry a non-Muslim man.

Mohammed Ali Karim Chagla, who was Jinnah’s assistant at the time, wrote in his autobiography Roses in December:

”Jinnah had only one daughter, and this story also, I have reason to believe, is true. She wanted to marry a Parsi belonging to a distinguished family. She asked her father‘s consent to the marriage. Jinnah, in his usual imperious manner, told her that there were millions of Muslim boys in India and she could have anyone she chose. Then the young lady, who was more than a match for her father, replied: Father, there were millions of Muslim girls in India. Why did you not marry one of them? To which, of course, Jinnah could have no answer.”

This skewed interfaith relationship pattern was one of the many reasons that Ambedkar cited to advocate complete transfer of India’s Muslim population to the proposed Pakistan.

In running what seems to be a campaign for relationships that Jinnah would have approved and Ambedkar warned against, Bollywood is ignoring voices in its own backyard.

Kamalrukh, a Parsi by birth, has gone public with accusations against her late Muslim husband Wajid Khan and his family for constantly pressuring her to convert to and practise Islam despite her wishes.

Marathi actress and model Neha Khan publicly said that her mother, a Marathi Hindu who became third wife of a Muslim man, endured a lifetime of suffering for not giving in to her in-law family’s religious demands.

Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s niece Shasha told the media on video that she was harassed and abused by men in the Siddiqui family, including Nawazuddin, for being the child of a Hindu mother.

Far from making films on them, Bollywood has maintained complete silence on these real stories.

To an alert eye, interfaith films in Bollywood are now looking increasingly similar to films by the openly Islamist Lollywood (Bollywood means Mumbai-based Indian film industry and Lollywood means Lahore-based Pakistani film industry).

Take 2001 Pakistani film Musalman, featuring one of Pakistan’s biggest stars — Shaan Shahid. The film has a romantic sub-plot about a Pakistani Hindu woman in love with a Muslim collegemate, much against her ‘bigoted’ father’s wish.

The Hindu father, keeping with the tradition in both Lollywood and early Bollywood, is shown as greedy, cunning, bigoted and narrow-minded.

In the opening scene, the tilak-sporting father is shown telling the woman to stay away from Muslim men. She replies, “Aap Musalmano se itni nafrat kyun karte hain?” (Why do you hate Muslims so much?). She also says that Kashmir should be given to Pakistan.

In college, she meets her boyfriend Shahid and tells him, “Main apne pyaar ke liye apne mazhab ki deewar bhi gira dungi (I will even demolish the wall of my religion for the sake of our relationship).”

In the same film, daughter of a Hindu governor named Sita calls Hindus “liars” and expresses regret that she was born into the Hindu faith and not in a Muslim family.

In front of her father, she tells a Maulvi, “Maulanaji, main Musalman hona chahti hun (I want to become a Muslim).”

(Read about more such films in Pakistan in an earlier piece published by Swarajya here.)

Hindu women in Pakistani films are shown as ‘secular’ as they keep repeating that Ram and Rahman, and Ishwar and Allah, are same. No such sentiment is ever expressed by Muslim men.

Hindu fathers are portrayed as not only greedy, weak and liars, but also born bigots who hate Muslims. Muslim men are shown as being stronger and better than Hindu men.

With Atrangi Re, the Islamist agenda of one-way tolerance for interfaith relationships has got a boost.

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