As the political theater of Jammu and Kashmir is transformed, Bollywood cinema is rediscovering its age-old infatuation with Kashmir. Herds of locals from the entertainment industry have recently traveled to explore the valley landscapes. They also called on their comrades to join them in this movement to explore and capture Kashmir in front of the camera.
The Indian public has always been inclined to buy opinions on the big screen without really bothering to dwell deeply on the subject. Thus, Bollywood becomes to a large extent responsible for nurturing Indian minds and building views on different issues.
Bollywood filmmakers portray Kashmir as an avatar of Aphrodite, beguilingly pleading for both love and recidivism. His suffering is attributed to his sympathies for activism, and these sympathies attributed to the religion practiced in the valley. In this way, Indian cinema becomes a vector for the propagation of Islamophobia.
In a country where media literacy is negligible, what is supposed to be entertainment becomes a propaganda machine. If the cinema is a reflection of society, it would not be wrong to say that Islamophobia is widespread in Indian society.
The underlying philosophy of Indian cinema needs to be identified and debated as such propaganda will only threaten the Kashmiris, who are often harassed and beaten outside by crowds because of the perception created by Indian cinema.
Kashmir and its people, especially women, have been voyeuristically portrayed in Indian cinema. If today Indian politicians openly call for the kidnapping of Kashmiri women, Bollywood is guilty of what Fred called scopophilia in his portrayal of Kashmir. Showing it as a place of sexual awakening is a testimony to the gaze of the colonizers persisting in the films set in Kashmir.
But, more fascinating is the masochistic nature of the Kashmiris who continue to strive to get to Bollywood. These people continue to act in films that are contrary to the reality of their suffering. They must realize that their representation has a whole other weight. After subjecting them to decades of tyranny, the Indian entertainment industry and the honeymooning Bollywood fraternity are preaching the lessons of hospitality and love to Kashmiris.
Even Kashmiris who bounce off the walls of Bollywood films about feminism must realize that Indian cinema is selling an empowerment that is deeply rooted in gross abuse, alcohol, sex and smoking. He defines liberation as the destruction of one’s identity, religion and culture. Therefore, Kashmiris should not go ahead with blind acceptance to link their suffering to that shown on the big screen.
No matter how the pain of the people of Kashmirs is portrayed, Bollywood can’t justify one iota. They usually don’t describe suffering because they don’t believe people are suffering. It is against their collective conscience to engage their cameras in their pain. Rather, they will sow the seeds of confusion, for what they cannot afford is to recognize the pain of peoples.
They will choose people who will sell their conscience. They will bring glory to those people who are collaborators and agents of apparent change. Some filmmakers deceive that they support them, while others come to promote culture, feminism and other similar concepts to fuel anarchy in society.
Recently, Shehnaz Gils’ internet video has been touring where she is seen showing off on a song, ‘Bumbro Bumbro’ in a traditional Kashmiri outfit which she captioned ‘Kashmiri style’ ‘. It has never been the Kashmiri way. Indian celebrities on entering the so-called ‘heaven on earth’ never utter a word against Bollywood’s misrepresentation of Kashmir and its people. Almost no one has the courage to tell the truth. They only seem hallucinated and covered by the beauty of Kashmir and honestly go about their agitprop task.
As many big Bollywood production banners explore locations in Kashmir, all they do is repeat the clichés, praising the beauty of Kashmir and the natives for their hospitality and love, just like in the past. The people of Panglossian Kashmir should also expect the same treatment on the big screen this time around.
The writers are students of mass communication and journalism at the University of Kashmir.
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