An Indian Civilizational Perspective

My Name is Khan: A Review

Last night, I went to watch “My Name is Khan”.  A lot has been said about the movie by many parties, and it is best to see things for yourself to make a sound judgment than to trash it or eulogize it by hearsay.

First lets get the assessment of the movie related stuff out.  Story-wise and innovativeness wise it was a bummer.  Shah Rukh was copying Dustin Hoffman to the hilt.  The story had a strong flavor of Rain Man, of how Dustin Hoffman (Raymond) and Tom Cruise (Charlie) go around the country and the sort of experiences they have.  The parts on how SRK goes to the small Georgian town of Wilhimena after the hurricane was over dramatized and also the part on Obama.  It wasn’t such an intelligent plot and in the end pretty melodramatic.  Compared to “3 Idiots”, it was really mediocre.. and honestly there were many weaknesses in “3 Idiots” itself.

Now, what was disturbing was not its mediocrity but three things: Stereotypes, Exaggeration and Context.  Lets talk about these aspects of the movie.

Stereotypes

What was really sad about this movie was that it was made ostensibly to disparage Stereotypes (“My name is Khan and I am not a Terrorist”), and yet it tried to do that by RE-INFORCING stereotypes for everyone else (Non-Muslims) in an attempt to bring home its message.  It was almost as if one wanted to appear Holy by throwing mud at the others so one could look cleaner in comparison!

White people, overwhelmingly, were shown to be heartless or racist.  Black people were supposed to be dumb and poor, and therefore, nice.  Muslims, were shown to be besieged everywhere – whether its India or US, and therefore retaliating.  Law enforcement officials in the US were shown, as a generality, to be without any humanity or not following any rule of law.. and above all, threatening.

I will speak to these in detail, but one small piece – which was specific and bad case of mis-information and lack of credible research into this movie was Rizwan’s (SRK) experience in the jail!  The torture of sleeplessness and other things (change of temperatures, lack of access to information, unusable toilet seats) are NOT from the US jail system (however bad it may be), but from Guantanamo Bay prisons.  Yes, the torture in Guantanamo has happened and it is disturbing, but to suggest that every Muslim, despite his or her medical condition, who goes to a US Jail, is subjected to such torture as a regular means of treatment is farcical, very mischievious and plays right in to the hands of the Jihadi propaganda.

Now about the stereotypes that this movie promoted.

White people

Lets be clear.  White man is generally taken to be a proxy of the “West”.  So, when one talks of stereotypes of Whites or of the West, the world talks of basically synonyms.  Unfortunately, that is the truth behind the scenes.  Hence, I wanted to get that pretense of the holier-than-thou liberals out of the way!  When you are showing a stereotype about Whites, you are basically trying to make a statement on the West.

So, from the boys who killed Sam, to the people who threaten the shop keepers to the law enforcement agencies….. it seems White people are incarnations of devil and somehow highly insensitive!  And against their normal grain, they turn “human” only when they are close to you as friends but change when they face any tough situation (Reese abetted killing of Sam because of his anger).  Somehow, it is always a matter of celebration and something out of usual, if they “act nicely” to you.  If you listen to the Jihadi talk and read their propaganda, this is precisely what they are always trying to portray about the white man and the West!!  MNIK’s portrayal of the White Man (and West by proxy) is a page out of Jihadi propaganda book and NOT based on a liberal and secular sensibilities!

I have spoken on my blog against how Avatar shows as if unless White man helps people of some other planet, even those tribes won’t do anything worthwhile (reinforcing the “White Man’s burden” construct!).  So, stereotypes are perpetuated in both ways.  And trying to portray the other extreme because Hollywood portrays one is very self-defeating indeed..

So, while James Cameron’s stereotype in Avatar betrays a Colonial mind-set and therefore offensive; Karan Johar and SRK’s stereotype betrays the “Muslim ghettoes and Jihadi brain-washing” mind-set and therefore offensive.

Truth is somewhere in between.

Black People

Black People, whenever shown, are shown as “victims”, “stupid” and “downtrodden” who are nice to talk to simply because of their “subtly projected” lower economic condition and IQ.  Its the romantic (socialist ideology driven primarily) notion that many times Raj Kapoor showed of the poor slum dwellers vs Rich men in his movies.  Bollywood movies have many times been down this road of showing poor men with humanity and rich men as heartless as a stereotype, which is a completely Socialist and Communist construct.  Not all poor and downtrodden are nice and not all rich and privileged are inhuman.  And since, in the US, only blacks happen to be embodiment of poverty and downtrodden and White men as the rich abettors of crime in the popular folk-lore perpetuated around the world, especially so in the Jehadi narratives, that’s what somehow creeps into this movie as well.

Muslims

Muslims are somehow shown as besieged every where.  They are victims incarnate.  Whether it is the narrative after the riots or in the speech of the extremist in the mosque (which was not the point Rizwan counters, rather he clarifies a theological point of sacrifice of his son’s blood by Ishmael).  Even in school its the same narrative as it is in businesses.

Kajol from My Name is Khan
Kajol from My Name is Khan

Now, I have lived through the years since 9-11 in the US.  I have been working with Muslims and also seen the businesses in Houston, the most conservative of cities as they come in the US.  No other businesses have prospered as much as those of people who worked hard and had the right idea.  There are Pakistani women and men who have grown exponentially and from a strictly desi clientele gotten a strong American clients on their roster of customers.  Yes, and I am talking of Salons more than any other businesses.. IN HOUSTON!!  So, if I were to talk of California, the most liberal state in the US and San Francisco, one of the decidedly most liberal of cities in that state, then the narrative of Mandira’s salon going out of business because of her Khan last name is nothing but a cruel caricature!  It is so misinformed and misinforming that it could have easily been written by the likes of Zaid Hamid and Hamid Gul than by a well informed Secularist or Humanist Muslim.

To epitomize Muslims as Victims is a strong Jehadi need and imperative.  If you understand the historic narrative of Islam, you will realize that Victimization has been very deeply stitched into its fabric.  And with the narrative of Victimization has come closely the narrative of “fighting back” and killing the other.  In Quran, however, the narrative of Victimization is defined from the standpoint of Belief (in the 3 main tenets of Islam – Day of Judgment, Belief in Allah, and following Muhammad’s example) and retaliation is to Non-Belief (or Kufr).

Victimization as a central precept has been the most effective way of creating converts to any cause, with a apparently egalitarian agenda but, which in reality, turns out to be an extremist agenda.  Communism is another great example of that.

There can never be an equality of human experiences, and it cannot be enforced by any means ever.  What is there however, scientifically and spiritually, is the equality of existence itself.  This equality cannot be enforced but can be experienced.

The issue is that those who have set out to take their followers to the “promised land of equality” have turned them into extremists who fight the world which lives and revels in its diversity.

Enforcing Equality NECESSARILY leads to Suppression of Diversity.

It is no wonder therefore, that in the societies and the groups where enforcement (not exploration) of Equality is the Central precept, expression of desent is highest evil!  Whether it is Islamic societies or the Communist societies, heretical expression is reserved the highest punishment.

It is in this context of the “Three Narratives”, as I call them, that the depiction of Victimization should be viewed.  The Three Narratives are:

Narrative # 1: Explicitly desire that you want to push your ideology on the other guy and that the other guy should swear by your ideology as the ONLY “Truth” and that such a desire is an order of your god. Any action that bars you from carrying out such an action is sufficient and legitimate proof of “Victimization”.

Narrative #2: That, if you are “Victimized”, you have enough and sufficient justification to Kill the “perpetrator” – the guy who wanted to NOT go by your desires of swearing by your ideology and bowing to your god.

Narrative #3: The ideology is not “Anti-Peace” or against humanity as the Narrative #2 may suggest. Killing, after all, is only a specialized punishment for those who “Harm” or “Victimize” you. Otherwise, its all “good”.

If you look Sura 2 from verse 191 through 192, the entire argument for the three narratives is clearly and unequivocally established.

It is clear if one were to look closely, that Victimization as a narrative is the CENTRAL argument that abets Terrorism, also called Jihad.  I know that there are diferent “types” of Jihad listed in the book, but until now, I have not seen anyone practising them nor discussing them as an anti-dote to violence and way to peace in the world, specially in a dialog with the extremists.  So, let’s go by what is being practised and not what exists merely in arguments.

Exaggeration

.This was the most mischievious of the entire story line.  Yes, attacks happened on Sikhs and on Muslims in the US post 9-11, but they were by NO MEANS or stretch of imagination, a trend!  I was not following all the attacks, but if I would have to hazard a guess not more than maybe couple of dozen attacks may have occured on the Muslim families and individuals due to religious intolerance.  I know a few Sikhs also got killed, but even those attacks were less than half a dozen in the last 10 years.

I don’t know of ANY incident where school kids would have targeted the Muslim kids in a way to kill them or subject violence on them.  My daughter and those of my friends also go to schools in Texas, which as I said before, is as conservative as any state in the US can get.  And these kids have Muslims, indeed my daughter had a Pakistani Muslim in her class.  I have asked her about him and what other kids think of him.  There is nothing different that they think of him than her or other friends of a different enthnicity.

I have seen quite a few countries and interacted with people of still many more countries, even those I have not visited.  And I can say categorically that US and Canada are perhaps the MOST tolerant countries on the face the earth right now.  The crimes of discrimination get so much coverage because these societies accept and encourage dissent and justice.  The plight of minorities in say, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or even Malaysia (the most progressive of Islamic nations) can only be imagined.

And that is what makes this attempt in MNIK, if it was to talk about HUMANITY and not forward the Muslim agenda per se, seem even more disingenuous.  Which leads me to the next category of my assessment – the Context of the movie.

Context

Throughout the movie, I was trying to understand – who was the target audience of the message?

Because there seemed to be many.

In your face was thrown that it was the Non-Muslim world at large, which was, for no particular reason, mis-understanding the Muslims, and therefore indulging in a monumental injustice to the “Humanity at large”.  The misunderstanding of the Muslims was not just a Perception issue but a Injustice to Humanity issue.

Let me take an example.  Rizwan goes to a motel of a Gujarati Hindu – Jitesh-bhai.  While they are talking, some white man (again a white mind you!) came and threw stone at his window and drove away.  In anger, Jitesh-bhai, who has been having such attacks, because a “silly white American” cannot tell the difference between a Hindu and a Muslim, starts to shout how he hates the Muslims for having brought such attacks on him even though he has nothing to with Jihad or Islam.  In fact, he might consider his own to be at the receiving end of the same Jihadis back home!!

Now, this is shown as his injustice against humanity or at least as insensitivity.  Now, if one were to look at it purely the standpoint of an Indian Muslim, he might think it was bad.  But think of it from the standpoint of a Hindu Businessman, who understands perfectly well that here he is targeted as a proxy for being Muslim, and in India the Pakistani and Pakistan-trained Indian Mujahideen target his kith/kin because he is NOT Muslim!

Don’t you think his plight is even worse?

In some cases, the context was also to educate the Muslims, specially the scene in the Mosque where the discussion on Ishmael story takes place and in a scene where Rizwan refers to the verse which says that “killing one innocent* is like killing humanity” (* What is an innocent from a theological standpoint as it is believed/progagated/interpreted in many Mullahs can be viewed in the videos below.)

It is very clear in the eyes of these people and others who follow them that equal rights are only reserved for Muslims.  These guys speak up which many believe in because of their interpretations.

By the way the verse that Rizwan cites is not as unequivocal for peace promotion as it is made out to be.

The story was of two brothers, son of Adam, where one brother murders the other and the one who dies, accepts death. The son of Adam, who is the murderer of his own brother is then sent, by Allah, a raven (crow) who digs the ground to show how the murderer could hide his brother’s corpse and cover him up. This brother then becomes repentent of what he had done. (link to all verses in this Sura)

Then comes this verse, where it is said in context of the Children of Israel or the Adam. However, this verse does NOT come without conditions. Even though, killing any one from their own tribe/family will be like killing the entire tribe, it can still be done if it is believed:

(i) the other person murdered someone
(ii) spreading mischief in the land

Now, look at the video from Dr. Zakir Naik above to understand what he is saying about the non-believers in Saudi Arabia. Non believers, according to Ulemas cannot be allowed to propagate their faith in Muslim lands, because that will create mischief. Now, one may be tempted to ask the question, how does this logic change in the land where Muslims live.. but as a minority? Mischief has nothing to do with the numbers. It has to do with the faith/belief of one’s own self and that of the other!

005.032
YUSUFALI: On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
PICKTHAL: For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth.
SHAKIR: For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.

So, if Muslims were indeed the target audience, wouldn’t it have been better to analyze strains like Sufism?

Religious beliefs have NOTHING to do with God or Liberation.  So, if any one – SRK or any other person – says that he wanted to reinforce a certain religious context because he felt it took one to God, then that is patent nonsense!

Honest spiritual exploration is the only credible way to liberation of mankind from its limited belief systems and to a more larger whole.  Honestly, Quranic Islam is not necessarily equal to Spirituality.  Sufism has tried to break away from it and in a lot of cases the Sufis were forced to tow the traditionalist agenda simply because of the force and fear of death.  Some did fight that but many did not and served the agenda of the religious.

For example, Tansen and AR Rehman were Hindus by belief and on their brush with a “Sufi” converted.  Now, Sufis are taken as Spiritualists extraordinaire without argument.  But anyone who even begins on a spiritual journey understands that conversion is a decidedly tribalistic agenda and has nothing to do with an Infinite consciousness known as God.  A real spiritualist will never talk of religion or conversion.  The very fact that these individuals were converted by so-called Sufis is more a comment on those “Sufis” than on anyone else.

So, just as wearing saffron and calling one a Guru does not mean that one is Enlightened, similarly wearing large hair locks and talking Sufi mumbo-jumbo does not mean that one is Enlightened.  Therefore, one needs to explore honestly.

Mainstream Islam based on Hadith and Quran has issues, whether SRK and others may like one to believe or not is another question.  But there is a major issue with regards to how it approaches the non-believers.  Here are some verses in Quran that one would need to discuss before we actually get to the peaceful verse that Rizwan utters.

Some Quranic Verses Justifying Violence against non-believers

2:193, 8:39, 8:73, 85:10, 9:14-15, 8:17, 9:13, 2:251, 2:154, 9:19, 9:11, 9:120, 2:44, 8:72, 9:38, 33:36, 4:89, 9:12, 2:178, 5:45, 42:39, 5:33, 8:12, 47:4, 9:5, 2:190-194, 2:216-218, 3:167-175, 4:66, 4:74-78, 4:95-96, 4:104, 5:54, 6:162, 8:12-16, 8:38-40, 8:57-62, 8:65-66, 8:72-75, 9:12-14, 9:19-21, 9:29, 9:36, 9:39, 9:44-46, 9:52, 9:81, 9:36-38, 9:93-94, 9:100, 9:123, 16:110, 22:39-40, 22:58, 25:68, 26:227, 33:25, 33:60-62, 47:20-21, 47:35, 48:16-22, 48:29, 49:9-10, 49:15, 57:10-11, 59:13-14, 61:4, 61:11-12, 73:20

It is a matter of concern for both the Believers and Non-believers that such discussion is not undertaken.

So, wouldn’t it have been better if one were to make a movie to explore the spiritual questions by a Muslim and take on the religion itself?  Taking on of religion by the spiritual has been done many times fruitfully – J. Krishnamurti has done it, Buddha did it, Nanak did it. It is a worthy exploration.

Reinforcing of religion can hardly be an attempt in the direction of peace of any durable nature.

In my considered view, if one is serious about humanity, one needs seeking not believing something that has happened sometime in history.  Reinforcing the greatness of a religion by forwarding falsehoods, as MNIK tries to do, can fool only some of the people.

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35 Comments
  1. Anonymous says

    i cant understand how you are blind .you talk about islam and some poeple who show you what islam,dont b a “consomateur”.be a real man and go and learn the meaning of islam,and after you can discuss .inour coran allah says that he created many nations differents so as to coexist.so why you join islam and terrorism?the eta in spain are muslim?busna and herssek are muslim?in uk in germany ,in palestin, in irak ?;;;;;you dont see the evidence infrnt of you ?i m muslim and i have many freinds no muslim and we respect each other .thats the true islam.so firstable learn the real islam and come to discuss

  2. Anonymous says

    i cant understand how you are blind .you talk about islam and some poeple who show you what islam,dont b a “consomateur”.be a real man and go and learn the meaning of islam,and after you can discuss .inour coran allah says that he created many nations differents so as to coexist.so why you join islam and terrorism?the eta in spain are muslim?busna and herssek are muslim?in uk in germany ,in palestin, in irak ?;;;;;you dont see the evidence infrnt of you ?i m muslim and i have many freinds no muslim and we respect each other .thats the true islam.so firstable learn the real islam and come to discuss

  3. Anonymous says

    i cant understand how you are blind .you talk about islam and some poeple who show you what islam,dont b a “consomateur”.be a real man and go and learn the meaning of islam,and after you can discuss .inour coran allah says that he created many nations differents so as to coexist.so why you join islam and terrorism?the eta in spain are muslim?busna and herssek are muslim?in uk in germany ,in palestin, in irak ?;;;;;you dont see the evidence infrnt of you ?i m muslim and i have many freinds no muslim and we respect each other .thats the true islam.so firstable learn the real islam and come to discuss

  4. garima says

    I have to take some more time reading the full review of the movie or rather your in-depth analysis of the whole matter in the review,I can only say about the movie and not the topics that it deals with. Unlike the cheap tricks of other feel good movies like DDLJ, where a hero can be a superhero, here the formula to mix very sensitive topics to create the same magic doesn’t work at all. A very careless handling and mixing of issues like terrorism,Islam, Asperger’s syndrome, emotions, and hurricanes! A hopeless potpourri of SRK’s overacting vaguely reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man and melodrama. The only thing good about it was the Tanay’s performance. Rest all the performances are like: Shah Rukh Khan so Shah Rukh khan, Kajol so Kajol and so on. Where is the versatility in acting? Non-educating, non-entertaining, and a complete waste of time.

  5. garima says

    I have to take some more time reading the full review of the movie or rather your in-depth analysis of the whole matter in the review,I can only say about the movie and not the topics that it deals with. Unlike the cheap tricks of other feel good movies like DDLJ, where a hero can be a superhero, here the formula to mix very sensitive topics to create the same magic doesn’t work at all. A very careless handling and mixing of issues like terrorism,Islam, Asperger’s syndrome, emotions, and hurricanes! A hopeless potpourri of SRK’s overacting vaguely reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man and melodrama. The only thing good about it was the Tanay’s performance. Rest all the performances are like: Shah Rukh Khan so Shah Rukh khan, Kajol so Kajol and so on. Where is the versatility in acting? Non-educating, non-entertaining, and a complete waste of time.

  6. Anonymous says

    Yes, the nonsense propogated by the likes of Zakir Naik is indeed hilarious, at the same time disturbing. Its also painful to know that a mad man like that is allow to peddle his trade in India.

  7. Anonymous says

    Yes, the nonsense propogated by the likes of Zakir Naik is indeed hilarious, at the same time disturbing. Its also painful to know that a mad man like that is allow to peddle his trade in India.

  8. morris says

    I have not seen the movie. I am not sure whether I will see it. But your review is in depth. I thought SRK would have been able to see the issue much more impartially than what you made out to be, particularly because he lives in a country where the authority bends over backward to keep muslims happy and moreover he is married to a hindu woman. A dissappointing sort of attitude by a man who is practically worshipped in India.

  9. Garimaa says

    Hi Morris
    The movie cannot talk about the political aspect of a situation, religion or terrorism even when it seems like it is meant to address such issues. The movie is not well made but the actor is a legendary actor of Bollywood and in person seems like a good Indian citizen. The movie, the issues that it apparently deal with, the actors and their personal opinions can never be mixed, correlated and confused with one another. I feel the film was not well made and on top of that it gained some cheap publicity by Bal Thackrey SRK clash. It is hilarious how everything got mixed up and the film earned sympathy. Karan got away with a lot less real brilliance in film making this time.

  10. morris says

    I have not seen the movie. I am not sure whether I will see it. But your review is in depth. I thought SRK would have been able to see the issue much more impartially than what you made out to be, particularly because he lives in a country where the authority bends over backward to keep muslims happy and moreover he is married to a hindu woman. A dissappointing sort of attitude by a man who is practically worshipped in India.

  11. Garimaa says

    Hi Morris
    The movie cannot talk about the political aspect of a situation, religion or terrorism even when it seems like it is meant to address such issues. The movie is not well made but the actor is a legendary actor of Bollywood and in person seems like a good Indian citizen. The movie, the issues that it apparently deal with, the actors and their personal opinions can never be mixed, correlated and confused with one another. I feel the film was not well made and on top of that it gained some cheap publicity by Bal Thackrey SRK clash. It is hilarious how everything got mixed up and the film earned sympathy. Karan got away with a lot less real brilliance in film making this time.

  12. Anonymous says

    First let us know why you still follow something scripted before medieval ages, meant for some dessert tribes – mostly the illiterate, uneducated, chauvinistic men victims of constant greed, jealously, hate, acquisition and libido… unless you acknowledge that evolution has not played any role in your mental development and you still want to avoid proper education while hiding in the shabby primitive schools which justifies your animal instincts ? Same question goes to all the fanatic jews, christians, hindus who spread violence in the name of God…

  13. Anonymous says

    First let us know why you still follow something scripted before medieval ages, meant for some dessert tribes – mostly the illiterate, uneducated, chauvinistic men victims of constant greed, jealously, hate, acquisition and libido… unless you acknowledge that evolution has not played any role in your mental development and you still want to avoid proper education while hiding in the shabby primitive schools which justifies your animal instincts ? Same question goes to all the fanatic jews, christians, hindus who spread violence in the name of God…

  14. garima says

    Yeah it is very sad that misinterpretation of scriptures, books, knowledge gives rise to fanatics in all cultures, races and religions. If we could remove the ignorance from their minds and somehow not let them condition the young minds with it, then things would be alright.Worse is that these people do not even look at how their ideologies have failed them in past and how they do not seem to work anymore. The countries affected have not shown any signs of economic growth and they are really cut off from the rest of the humanity, knowledge, technology etc. They only can devise evil from any technology.Question is to how to preserve the great scriptures and cultures yet prevent their misinterpretation by such groups. A daunting task seems almost impossible as of now.

  15. garima says

    Yeah it is very sad that misinterpretation of scriptures, books, knowledge gives rise to fanatics in all cultures, races and religions. If we could remove the ignorance from their minds and somehow not let them condition the young minds with it, then things would be alright.Worse is that these people do not even look at how their ideologies have failed them in past and how they do not seem to work anymore. The countries affected have not shown any signs of economic growth and they are really cut off from the rest of the humanity, knowledge, technology etc. They only can devise evil from any technology.Question is to how to preserve the great scriptures and cultures yet prevent their misinterpretation by such groups. A daunting task seems almost impossible as of now.

  16. Anonymous says

    As a notion of freedom of expression each and every one of us is entitled to free speech but when this free speech goes out of context and is used under the banner to cover a racist agenda then there is always a problem. Your Blog is very much such an example, The fact that people like you are still around is a shame, If u try to create a similarity then u are just like those mullahs who do wrong in the name of Islam. Your Anti Muslim Rhetoric just gives me an image of Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena which would do anything to prove a point. In fact these groups are no different than the Taleban of Al Qaida, They will kill when given the chance and so are u not very different from them. I am really grateful that u have left India and have settled abroad for we do not need people like u anymore. It’s better u give ur services to another foreign county than spread hatred and nonsense in mine…..I am proud to be an Indian and a Muslim. For some peculiar reason all people like u believe is that India is for Hindus…..But u forget that in 21 century India people like u will surely outnumber people like me who be Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh or Parsi….see a modern India one devoid of the hatred that had prevailed in the past, where people loved to cut each other on the streets and in the alleys like in gujrat or Bombay. the legacy of which is u in flesh and blood. It’s a shame u call urself an Indian, Thank God ur not one anymore…

    Peace and Blessings be upon u..

  17. Anonymous says

    As a notion of freedom of expression each and every one of us is entitled to free speech but when this free speech goes out of context and is used under the banner to cover a racist agenda then there is always a problem. Your Blog is very much such an example, The fact that people like you are still around is a shame, If u try to create a similarity then u are just like those mullahs who do wrong in the name of Islam. Your Anti Muslim Rhetoric just gives me an image of Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena which would do anything to prove a point. In fact these groups are no different than the Taleban of Al Qaida, They will kill when given the chance and so are u not very different from them. I am really grateful that u have left India and have settled abroad for we do not need people like u anymore. It’s better u give ur services to another foreign county than spread hatred and nonsense in mine…..I am proud to be an Indian and a Muslim. For some peculiar reason all people like u believe is that India is for Hindus…..But u forget that in 21 century India people like u will surely outnumber people like me who be Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh or Parsi….see a modern India one devoid of the hatred that had prevailed in the past, where people loved to cut each other on the streets and in the alleys like in gujrat or Bombay. the legacy of which is u in flesh and blood. It’s a shame u call urself an Indian, Thank God ur not one anymore…

    Peace and Blessings be upon u..

  18. Anonymous says

    As a notion of freedom of expression each and every one of us is entitled to free speech but when this free speech goes out of context and is used under the banner to cover a racist agenda then there is always a problem. Your Blog is very much such an example, The fact that people like you are still around is a shame, If u try to create a similarity then u are just like those mullahs who do wrong in the name of Islam. Your Anti Muslim Rhetoric just gives me an image of Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena which would do anything to prove a point. In fact these groups are no different than the Taleban of Al Qaida, They will kill when given the chance and so are u not very different from them. I am really grateful that u have left India and have settled abroad for we do not need people like u anymore. It’s better u give ur services to another foreign county than spread hatred and nonsense in mine…..I am proud to be an Indian and a Muslim. For some peculiar reason all people like u believe is that India is for Hindus…..But u forget that in 21 century India people like u will surely outnumber people like me who be Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh or Parsi….see a modern India one devoid of the hatred that had prevailed in the past, where people loved to cut each other on the streets and in the alleys like in gujrat or Bombay. the legacy of which is u in flesh and blood. It’s a shame u call urself an Indian, Thank God ur not one anymore…

    Peace and Blessings be upon u..

  19. Desh says

    Fine, lets begin with the going in assumption that I am the worst guy alive.. a total monster. I will not even protest that.

    Now, lets understand the EXACT and PRECISE thing I wrote, which you think is “Out of Context” or “Wrong”.

    For example, you could say that the verses I have listed are not there in Quran.. or you could say that the translators like Yusuf Ali, Pickthal etc are not credible.

    But despite the fact of what you think of me, you cannot throw out the stuff I have written just because “I have written it”.. right?

    So lets start again.. this time be specific… I know you dislike me and its a shame “I am around” (should have been killed for saying something like that?).

    Do you even realize this mindset that does NOT let any challenge to the inherent take on things dished out.. and wants to silence every alternative view is at the heart of Islamic Terrorism?

    You despise me because of what I say – which is with all the references, btw, so I am NOT making it up! – without a single comment on why you think what I write is not correct.

    Try again this time.. and we will have a more adult discussion. I might be a monster, the worst that mankind has ever known.. but surely you cannot have any enmity with the WORDS.. you can definitely engage with them at least?

  20. Desh says

    Fine, lets begin with the going in assumption that I am the worst guy alive.. a total monster. I will not even protest that.

    Now, lets understand the EXACT and PRECISE thing I wrote, which you think is “Out of Context” or “Wrong”.

    For example, you could say that the verses I have listed are not there in Quran.. or you could say that the translators like Yusuf Ali, Pickthal etc are not credible.

    But despite the fact of what you think of me, you cannot throw out the stuff I have written just because “I have written it”.. right?

    So lets start again.. this time be specific… I know you dislike me and its a shame “I am around” (should have been killed for saying something like that?).

    Do you even realize this mindset that does NOT let any challenge to the inherent take on things dished out.. and wants to silence every alternative view is at the heart of Islamic Terrorism?

    You despise me because of what I say – which is with all the references, btw, so I am NOT making it up! – without a single comment on why you think what I write is not correct.

    Try again this time.. and we will have a more adult discussion. I might be a monster, the worst that mankind has ever known.. but surely you cannot have any enmity with the WORDS.. you can definitely engage with them at least?

  21. Manish M says

    Good stuff, Desh. But What did you expext of a man who revels in a name like KJo? Some intellectual discourse ? He’s been peddling puerile nonsense and using SRK as the vehicle. On this occasion, it is SRK who’s peddling his version of rubbish, using Karan Johar as the vehicle. I won’t be surprised if SRK joins politics in thenear future. Rahul Gandhi and him are perfect vehicles for each other’s brand of insidiously harmful politics. Ek duje ke liye.

  22. Manish M says

    Good stuff, Desh. But What did you expext of a man who revels in a name like KJo? Some intellectual discourse ? He’s been peddling puerile nonsense and using SRK as the vehicle. On this occasion, it is SRK who’s peddling his version of rubbish, using Karan Johar as the vehicle. I won’t be surprised if SRK joins politics in thenear future. Rahul Gandhi and him are perfect vehicles for each other’s brand of insidiously harmful politics. Ek duje ke liye.

  23. Manish M says

    Good analysis, really, Desh. But you shouldn’t have expected anything intellectually refined from a man who revels in the imbecilic name of K-Jo. He’s always peddled a certain style of puerile trash and used SRK as a vehicle. The only difference this time was that it was SRK’s trash that was being peddled and the vehicle was K-Jo. Same difference, see? As for K(a)Jo(l) — well, the name says it all, doesn’t it? When you have friends in the media who will praise you even if you occasionally shriek in place of emoting, and sleep-walk through the rest of the film, then acting prowess is relegated to the status of a minor niggling detail.

    These two – K-jo and K-a-Jo-l — are prime examples of Hindus who help Islamists (I’m coming to that in a moment) hurt Hinduism and yet take a perverse pride in it. Having seen and read SRK’s statements on various issues over the years, I have always believed that he’s a closet Islamist. Don’t be surprised if he soon joins politics — Rahul Gandhi will then become the vehicle for SRK’s insidious politics. Of course, the fool will be led to believe that getting SRK to join the Kaangrayce is a scoop b/c he’s using SRK to garner Muslim votes.

  24. Manish M says

    Good analysis, really, Desh. But you shouldn’t have expected anything intellectually refined from a man who revels in the imbecilic name of K-Jo. He’s always peddled a certain style of puerile trash and used SRK as a vehicle. The only difference this time was that it was SRK’s trash that was being peddled and the vehicle was K-Jo. Same difference, see? As for K(a)Jo(l) — well, the name says it all, doesn’t it? When you have friends in the media who will praise you even if you occasionally shriek in place of emoting, and sleep-walk through the rest of the film, then acting prowess is relegated to the status of a minor niggling detail.

    These two – K-jo and K-a-Jo-l — are prime examples of Hindus who help Islamists (I’m coming to that in a moment) hurt Hinduism and yet take a perverse pride in it. Having seen and read SRK’s statements on various issues over the years, I have always believed that he’s a closet Islamist. Don’t be surprised if he soon joins politics — Rahul Gandhi will then become the vehicle for SRK’s insidious politics. Of course, the fool will be led to believe that getting SRK to join the Kaangrayce is a scoop b/c he’s using SRK to garner Muslim votes.

  25. Anonymous says

    This is a movie review? You start off with valid points and opinions on the actual movie, but then veer off into the more forceful direction of analyzing a Quranic interpretation of Islam, etc. I am kind of shocked to find this kind of review of a Bollywood movie, more focused on a negative analysis of Islamic beliefs and perspectives than on the movie itself.

    I do think that a religion like Islam needs more of a spiritual interpretation in today’s world than a literal one. But, the point of MNIK, like the point of most Bollywood movies, was not a particularly deep or spiritual one. I consider it more of a stepping stone on the way to breaking apart a grossly damaging stereotype of today’s billions of Muslims — not a “reinforcing of religion”. Wake up, people. 25% of the world’s population is Muslim. Islam doesn’t need to be “reinforced”; certain beliefs and perspectives within Islam don’t need to be “reinforced”, there will always be discourse pertaining to different ideas/perspectives, as there are in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. BUT, what DOES need to be reinforced is the idea that MUSLIMS ARE JUST PEOPLE; that love works in more powerful ways than hate; that peace and acceptance is an option for all of us. I think MNIK accomplishes that. It saddens me that people aren’t able to see that.

  26. Anonymous says

    This is a movie review? You start off with valid points and opinions on the actual movie, but then veer off into the more forceful direction of analyzing a Quranic interpretation of Islam, etc. I am kind of shocked to find this kind of review of a Bollywood movie, more focused on a negative analysis of Islamic beliefs and perspectives than on the movie itself.

    I do think that a religion like Islam needs more of a spiritual interpretation in today’s world than a literal one. But, the point of MNIK, like the point of most Bollywood movies, was not a particularly deep or spiritual one. I consider it more of a stepping stone on the way to breaking apart a grossly damaging stereotype of today’s billions of Muslims — not a “reinforcing of religion”. Wake up, people. 25% of the world’s population is Muslim. Islam doesn’t need to be “reinforced”; certain beliefs and perspectives within Islam don’t need to be “reinforced”, there will always be discourse pertaining to different ideas/perspectives, as there are in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. BUT, what DOES need to be reinforced is the idea that MUSLIMS ARE JUST PEOPLE; that love works in more powerful ways than hate; that peace and acceptance is an option for all of us. I think MNIK accomplishes that. It saddens me that people aren’t able to see that.

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  29. Kishor Kr says

    The movie was good. And, about the religion. What I think is that we humans have made the religion and not the other way around. Then why we let ourselves be dictated by a set of irrational people who think they have the proprietorship of the religion. You’re right in saying that someone who had a spiritual authority must take the path and rediscover the true essence of religion. But then that someone has to be someone among us.

  30. umashankar says

    It’s never too late to hit home, arrive at a correct decision. Of late, SRK has been finding it hard to hide away his talons.

  31. reba says

    I started reading this post by way with great interest and it really was good in some ways but I think you are doing a great disservice to everyone associated with the movie by joining their name with jihad. Problems with Islam should be mentioned in another post and this should be a movie review, because Bollywood has done enough stupid stuff. It is just a movie. And even as srk fan I thought it was a bad movie and full of exaggerations and melodrama. BUT by giving it a jehadi angle you are trying to say as if the makers want jehad! Most of the ppl associated with movie are Hindus by the way and they have made a bad movie. Sorry to say this is not a movie review.

    Now just for a moment think about this. All through 60s and 70s and 80s remember all the movies Bollywood churned out. Remember Purab aur Paschim? My mom’s favorite actor Manoj Kumar made many great movies and how did he depict most of westerners in almost ALL his movies? As ppl who were ALL into drugs and booze and women were ‘easy’ and characterless whereas a nice bhartiya naari was all sari clad,shy,downcast,totally devoid of all personality. Now how would we feel if someone takes this up as ‘proof’ of him trying to impose the ‘Hindu’ ethos on everyone where despite we worshipping goddesses, we kill out girls in the womb, we kill them in name of dowry and we have words in manusmriti that ‘pour wax in ears of women if they study’. Of course it will be sad and we will be outraged. I don’t like Manoj Kumar’s movies much mainly because of such exaggerated and biased representation of foreigners because I think that being patriotic does not mean we need to hate everyone else. We can love our country and religion without hating others. So it is okay, I don’t watch those movies but I will not join them with religious angle. There are many such examples where Bollywood totally misrepresents facts, totally melodramatizes things and it just shows their immaturity. I did not like My Name is Khan either but mainly because it was a bad film, not because of some stupid jehadi angle. Karan Johar made a bad film and that is that. A movie review should be limited to that, not maligning people based on religion. Alas, this post for eternity puts everyone associated with MNIK in the same company as terrorists which is just shameful. Most of the ppl will never use their brains and think about issues logically they will just read this and say ‘yes yes look they are all jehadis’. Sad,seriously.

    1. Desh Kapoor says

      Reba – thanks for your comment. So let us discuss your concerns:

      1. Discussion of religion: This was the central aspect of the whole movie. Whatever happened – from the treatment of Rizwan to Mandira’s salons being targeted to the prescriptions by Rizwan in the mosque – were all based on the central precept on what Islam is or is not and what the Muslims in specific go through. My argument was that these were disingenuous, exaggerated and false. Since this was not a review for a newspaper and something that I felt needed proper context, I had to – anyone should have – bring in the proper verses. The “Kill one man, you kill humanity” is a false interpretation. We know what the Verse 5:32 in Surah Al-Maidah says something totally different. So the falsehood – which was in line with the overall theme of the movie – had to be called out. I couldn’t have done that without discussing the verses.
      2. Jehadi narrative: What is the narrative of the Jehadis? That West, Jews and Hindus are devils incarnate and they can never do anything good. That the West/Whites are always trying to target the Muslims specifically. The overall narrative of Victimhood is again, central to the Jehadi goals. If they can portray themselves as victims, they get unlimited and unrestricted license to kill. We see that in Kashmir and even in Palestine, don’t we? This movie sought to further that very narrative through SRK’s face.
      3. Past Nationalistic Movies: Yes, those were flawed and wrong, but it was a very general stereotype – Indians vs Outsiders. But it didnt get into the religious aspect at any time. But here this movie was trying to make a statement on the global mess of terrorism. It has more immediate and important impact to everyone. Nothing is going to happen is someone sitting in UP feels the white women drink, but if violence prone verses and narrative in Islam is not challenged (which it is not) then terrorism continues.

      Reba – there is a challenge. There is rabid and consistent Islamic terrorism globally. And there is a response to it. There are different hues to both. For the former, there are Doers and there are Apologists. For the latter there are Mild protesters, Intellectual challengers and Rabid Right wingers (like Trump). It is not enough to keep defending Islamic theology as a matter of right. For it IS the issue. The sooner we get past that, the better it will be for humanity as a whole. Reformation is imperative and that is EXACTLY what expressions like MNIK stall.

  32. rachita arora says

    Some interesting points there. I have never liked Bollywood movies much, but I don’t think one should be including Jehad here..that gives bad signals out..this was a biased movie in favor of Islam but instead of just bashing SRK and Karan Johar and MNIK, who I don’t think had anything with jehadi tendencies, why not focus on ppl like Rajkumar Hirani who have made PK making full fledged fun of Hindus? That movie made my blood boil and it became highest grosser of the year! I find it ridiculous that just by bashing SRK many ppl think that they have done a duty,I don’t understand why he is always the single most target,is it because his name sells? I see everyone in Bollywood actually totally in disregard of our feelings and emotions, it is so easy to make fun of Hindus nowadays. Write a post on how Rajkumar Hirani and his ilk is promoting hatred against Hinduism and succeeding too instead of focusing on a movie that wasn’t even a big success. It is not like PK, Oh my God, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar or anybody else are doing great service to Hindus, they are all promoting Jehadi propaganda only by portraying us as superstitious and backward and minting money too.

    1. Desh Kapoor says

      Rachita – its not that Karan johar or SRK had Jehadi tendencies. They simply furthered a narrative that aligned exactly with the one that the Jehadis have. And reinforced it.

      As for OMG and PK, I agree they were derogatory about many practices in Hinduism. But the saddest part is that majority of Hindus follow those practices for the reasons they don’t understand about. That is why it is easy for people to ridicule and get away with it. When Hindus are ridiculed, they don’t even know how it should be countered, because they themselves don’t know why they have been doing what they have been doing. On this blog, I have been trying to explain why certain things are done in Hinduism – for example tackled the whole issue of women’s entry into Shani temple etc. The why of it.

      Because of our own ignorance and lack of proper arguments, we let the Jehadi agenda become mainstream.

  33. i b arora says

    you are expecting to much from bollywood even if it is an srk film

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