Bollywood Is Fueling Modi’s Hindu-Nationalist Agenda
Both onscreen and off, Bollywood has increasingly fed into Modi’s specific brand of nation-building.
The following is an excerpt from my article published at World Politics Review (shoutout my employer).
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It would be shocking to learn that 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits, a Hindu minority living in a Muslim-majority disputed territory, were killed in a genocide in the 1990s, and that information about the killings was deliberately suppressed. Indeed, it would be shocking, if it were true.
That the claim is false, however, did not stop Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi from recommending “The Kashmir Files” to members of his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. The film, which presents itself as being based on true stories, inaccurately portrays the violent and distressing exodus of Hindus from the Kashmir Valley as a genocide.
“All of you should watch it,” Modi said in March 2022 at a meeting with BJP parliamentarians. “The film has shown the truth which has been suppressed for years.”
The “truth” is, of course, complicated. Kashmir has long been a sensitive and controversial subject, as are the undoubtedly violent and distressing events that took place in the 1990s. Still, while the exact number of Pandits killed and displaced may be unverified, even the highest estimates don’t come close to what is suggested in the film.
Despite this, the prime minister’s recommendation of “The Kashmir Files” is not surprising. The revisionist history presented in the film is in line with the Hindu nationalist ideology that has characterized much of Modi and the BJP’s actions and rhetoric since he took office in 2014. This film is not an exception, either. Rather, it is a high-profile example of a wider trend. Over the past decade, both onscreen and off, Bollywood has increasingly fed into Modi’s specific brand of nation-building—at times involuntarily but at others quite willingly.
Read the rest here.
That’s all for this edition of Cansler Culture. See ya next time when I’ll probably be talking about the Drive to Survive formula.