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Can Bollywood Survive Modi? – The Atlantic

There’s a heartbreaking inevitability to the confrontation between Bollywood and Modi’s BJP. Modi doesn’t view India as a composite tradition, to which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians have all contributed, however relatively as an basically Hindu entity whose future lies in bringing a couple of Hindu cultural renaissance. Modi’s report as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat included complicity in a pogromlike riot in 2002, through which greater than 1,000 individuals, most of them Muslim, have been killed.

Muslims have at all times had a disproportionate affect in Bollywood. Actors equivalent to Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, and Aamir Khan have towered over the panorama of Indian cinema for the previous 30 years: Of the ten highest-grossing movies in Bollywood historical past, six characteristic one of many Khans. (The three are usually not associated.) A number of of Bollywood’s most influential studios have been owned by Muslim households.

If Modi has probably the most Twitter followers of any man in India, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan are within the high rank, with greater than 40 million every. At No. 2 is a legend named Amitabh Bachchan, whose profession illustrates how inextricably Muslim lives are sure up with the film business.

Although not Muslim himself, Bachchan grew well-known on the display within the Nineteen Seventies by inhabiting an angry-man character named Vijay, a persona created by two Muslim screenwriters. The movies he made informed tales of an India whose very survival trusted Hindu-Muslim unity. Bachchan’s father, a Hindi poet, grew up in a world steeped in Urdu and Persian poetry. It was this shared tradition, through which Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus all participated, that fed Bollywood in its early days. It’s Bollywood’s DNA.

The BJP has a really completely different origin story. The get together started within the Nineteen Eighties because the political face of a company known as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The RSS was based in 1925, at a time when European fascist actions have been gaining floor. Its early leaders, males equivalent to M. S. Golwalkar, whose birthday the Modi authorities just lately celebrated with a Twitter announcement, brimmed with regard for Nazi Germany. Golwalkar wrote in 1939 that India might study from Germany’s efforts to “sustain the purity of the race and its tradition.”

The RSS lately has sought to maneuver previous its ugly beginnings. However fixations stay, together with an insistence on racial purity and a horror of interreligious marriage. A spate of latest legal guidelines restricts marriages between Hindus and Muslims in BJP-controlled states. Interreligious marriage, in the meantime, is way extra widespread in Bollywood than in Indian society at giant. Two of the three Khans are married to Hindu girls.

Throughout Modi’s first time period, which started in 2014, the BJP’s “IT Cell”—a community of on-line influencers and hate-mongers—made a few of its most severe social-media assaults on Muslims in Bollywood. In 2015, Aamir Khan was hideously trolled when he expressed alarm at rising intolerance and talked about that his spouse had broached the concept of leaving the nation. The next yr, Saif Ali Khan—one other main man—got here below orchestrated social-media assault when he and his Hindu spouse, Kareena Kapoor, named their first son Taimur. (Taimur was the Muslim ruler recognized within the West as Tamerlane.)

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