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A Bangladeshi story portrayed in a bad light in Bollywood films




Illustration: Salman Saqib Shahryar


Illustration: Salman Saqib Shahryar

Recently, two popular Bangladeshi actresses, Bidya Sinha Mim and Mehazabien Chowdhury, turned down a film offer from Indian director Vishal Bhardwaj (of “Maqbool”, “Omkara” and “Haider”). “Khufiya”, the film in question, apparently distorts Bangladesh and its politics, Mim and Mehazabien said.

In a conversation with The Daily Star, Mim revealed that she rejected the film after reading the script.

“It’s hard to say no to a famous director. I’ve admired him for a long time. It was also my first offer for a Bollywood film. But unfortunately I had to refuse,” said the actress.

She politely declined the offer, as she felt the story lacked knowledge of political history and other basic information about Bangladesh.

Mehazabien, meanwhile, rejected the film in July. “I had a long conversation with the director, and I felt the script demeaned my country, and I couldn’t accept it,” she told The Daily Star.

But is this the first time that Bangladesh has been portrayed in a bad light in an Indian film? Let’s look back.

Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh ‘Gunday’, a film subject to much criticism due to its portrayal of the history of Bangladesh.


Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh ‘Gunday’, a film subject to much criticism due to its portrayal of the history of Bangladesh.

The Bollywood film “Gunday” (2014), starring Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, was embroiled in the controversy upon its release, as it mentioned in its opening scene that Bangladesh was born while Pakistan surrendered on December 16 at the end of the Indo-Pakistani War.

The people of Bangladesh were enraged by the film, as it undermined the armed resistance of Bangladesh’s freedom fighters. The film also completely ignored the loss of around three million lives during the war.

The Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry intervened and asked the Indian authorities to stop the broadcasting of “Gunday” with immediate effect.

T-Series, one of the film’s producers, immediately removed the scene from its online channels and issued a public apology to Bangladeshi viewers.

Their statement read: “Several of our Bangladeshi brethren have shared with us their concerns about how the story has been described and we would like to apologize if any disrespect or prejudice has been caused to them. and is meant to be a fictional work and does not project or disrespect any particular segment of society, persons or nation. “

Next, Shah Rukh Khan star “Jab Harry Met Sejal” who portrays Bangladeshi immigrants in a derogatory manner.

One of the characters in the film, Gas (played by Chandan Roy Sanyal), was of Bangladeshi descent. The character is a fake jewelry racket boss, who defends himself in front of Harry (played by Shah Rukh Khan), as he is an illegal immigrant who moved to Portugal in search of alternative sources of income because his farmland has been ruined by relentless flooding.

Many Bangladeshi immigrants feared that the film would create a negative impression on them.

“I’m not in favor of stereotypes. There are films in which Bengalis are identified with certain clichés. The problem is that such clichés lead people to generalize about a race or a nation,” the actress said. Bangladeshi Sohana Saba at Times of India at the time. . “It is a sensitive subject and one that requires careful contextualization.”

Bangladeshi filmmaker Shihab Shaheen highlighted the impact of cultural hegemony in Bollywood films.

“Bollywood takes over to undermine us while we let them do it. Through the degrading portrayal of Bangladeshis, they are trying to satisfy the Indian public by selling anti-Bangladesh sentiment, ”he said.

A misrepresentation of Bangladesh can also be found in the hit Telegu film, “Goodachari”, which was released in 2018. The film suggests that Bangladesh, as a country, lacks community harmony and cultivates terrorism.

He showed Chattogram as a haven for terrorists and that innocent children were trained to believe India is an enemy country. The film also showed a terrorist group distributing weapons to children.

An excerpt from “Children of War”, directed by Mrityunjay Devrat. The film was praised for its realistic portrayal, as the director interviewed journalists, veterans and refugees during his research.


An excerpt from “Children of War”, directed by Mrityunjay Devrat. The film was praised for its realistic portrayal, as the director interviewed journalists, veterans and refugees during his research.

Given this disappointing trend, directors like Mrityunjay Devrat, who beautifully portrayed the trauma of the 1971 Liberation War in his 2014 film “Children of War,” deserve to be appreciated.

Devrat interviewed various journalists, veterans and refugees for the film. “Children of War” was also broadcast on Bangladesh Television for its true-to-life portrayal.

Perhaps the less than desirable portrayal of Bangladesh in Indian films can be explained by the remark by Indian Minister of the Interior Amit Shah that “the poor of Bangladesh come to India because they do not have enough. to eat in their own country “and the response of the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen that the knowledge of Shah from Bangladesh was” limited “and his remarks were” unacceptable especially when the relations between Bangladesh and India are so deep “.




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