India: anti-Muslim Bollywood films on the rise ahead of elections

India: anti-Muslim Bollywood films on the rise ahead of elections

Released in May, “The Kerala Story” is one of those Indian films that vilify Muslims and disseminate fake news about them, raising fears that the Bollywood industry will become a tool of propaganda ahead of the elections of the next year.

“Inspired by many true stories” immediately highlights the trailer for the anti-Muslim film on “innocent girls, trapped, victims of trafficking intended to make them terrorists”. The Hindi fiction, which tells the story of a Hindu woman who converts to Islam and then becomes radicalized, is the second highest-grossing Hindi film of 2023.

Its critics believe that this film, like others recently released, peddles lies to pit communities against each other, in the run-up to national elections in 2024. “I would suggest all political parties take advantage of my film […] that they use it for their political purposes”, replies the director Sudipto Sen when asked about his own political color.

The world’s largest democracy has a long history of film censorship, but many critics are concerned that Bollywood is producing more and more films, tainted with the Hindu nationalist ideology advocated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party.

Indians are crazy about cinema, an unequaled medium for addressing the popular masses, recalls journalist and author Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.

They “instill hatred”

Under Mr. Modi’s tenure, multiple films have aired divisive messages reinforcing prejudices broadcast by political leaders, he points out. “Like them, these films instill hatred in the population […] rise against religious minorities,” he adds.

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