ApunKaChoice : Bollywood


Salman KhanApna Bollywood is unshakably secular!
29th July 2008  22.00 IST
By Naresh K. Deoshi  

It is an industry where Muslim musicians compose Hindi bhajans, and Hindu actors happily play devout Muslim characters.

The boundaries of religion (if any) blur in Bollywood, the most splendid mirror of Indian secularism. Competence and creativity have always scored over religion in apna Bollywood right from the times of Suraiyya and Noorjahan to the days of Salman Khan and Aamir Khan .

In a country where majority of population comprises of Hindus, we can acknowledge with pride that the Khans have ruled the film industry for decades. Pride because the audiences don't see talent under the label of any religion. Pride because when fans applaud an Aamir Khan movie or when they dance the 'Dard-e-disco' with Shahrukh Khan , they don't think of the God these stars pray to.

Bollywood is the cauldron where all religions mingle in the name of creativity and - let's acknowledge it - moolah and fame.

Take, for instance, the movie Jodhaa Akbar that has a beautiful Krishna bhajan "Mann Mohna", written by Javed Akhtar and composed by A R Rahman (both Muslims), picturised on Aishwarya Rai (a Hindu) who plays the wife of a Muslim emperor Akbar, enacted by Hrithik Roshan (a Hindu).

Or take Yash Chopra's movie Veer Zaara in which Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta (both Hindus) play Muslim Pakistani girls while Shahrukh Khan plays a patriotic Indian Hindu.

I can go on and on with examples and there would still be left aplenty. And let's not forget that these stars are not just secular at their jobs but in their personal lives as well.

Shahrukh is married to Gauri while Hrithik is married to Suzanne Khan. Aamir is married to Kiran Rao and Saif Ali Khan is seeing Kareena Kapoor after a broken marriage with Amrita Singh .

Such a harmonious Hindu-Muslim intermingling stands as a telling example for all of us, and it reflects something that is quintessentially Indian.

And to think that a terrorist threat (that the Khans have received) can wedge a divide in Bollywood on the basis of religion is sheer naivety and absurdity. For what else is it when those who justify the killing of people by their own interpretation of religion find it unreligious that Muslims work with Hindus in our secularly creative film industry.

For these perpetrators of hatred, a line from the great Urdu poet Iqbal comes to mind: Mazhab nahin sikhaata, aapas mein bair rakhna.

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