16. April 2010
A Round Table Discussion in Mumbia, India
Women without Borders / SAVE – Sisters Against Violent Extremism, organizes a round table discussion on Bollywood and Terror on May 1st, 2010, at the Taj Bandra Hotel in Mumbai.
The purpose of this roundtable is to understand the role of Bollywood in promoting cultural and religious pluralism and thus fomenting extremist trends in a multi religious society. The round table would also try to understand how Bollywood can play a further role in fighting violent extremism.
The idea behind this round table is to understand how global terror is influencing the content of Mumbai films. Cinema, despite the creative freedom exhibited by directors, at times is a reflection of society’s major concerns. Bollywood, therefore, is no exception. India, after all, is not fighting domestic extremism but also terrorism from across the border as evidenced in the case of the brazen 26/11 attack on Mumbai.
Bollywood has been a very powerful medium in India and abroad to influence mindsets and bring to the fore both sides of terror. The theme of terror has also evolved since Mumbai film maker Subhash Ghai’s Karma to the latest ‘A Wednesday’ where despite bombs and blasts life goes on in the Mumbai metropolis. Quite a few films are proposed on the Mumbai terror of 26/11 and on Kasab- the only terrorist caught alive.
The fear, agony and anguish of the families impacted by acts of terror are well reflected in films like Roja, Maachis, Bombay and others. The impact of acts of terror on the common man is best reflected in the film ‘A Wednesday”.
Indian Cinema is different from Hollywood in its treatment of this subject. They have been bold in taking up this issue and also bring forth the dilemmas of an individual caught in a cycle of violence. Films on the theme of terror have shown actors living up to their characters: be it a terrorist trying to destroy the country or a vigilante making an effort to save it. Films have raised questions like what motivates the person or a group of persons to kill? Can a suicide bomber fall in love or be loved? Can s/he be emotional and have a family bond? Can s/he be reformed? What are the motives? Who can inspire people to kill? How can you get out of the web?
The most amazing aspect about Bollywood is its cultural proximity. Here Muslim writers, actors and lyricists filmmakers exercise domination in a largely Hindu milieu which helps in capturing and critiquing the Muslim experience. In many ways, cinema has contributed in ensuring sanity in a largely jingoistic environment.