Vishwaroopam: Reinforcing Global Communal Stereotypes, Namaz, Bombs & justification for the US Empire
By Feroze Mithiborwala
I was a little benumbed whilst watching this technically advanced, but socio-politically regressive movie. Kamal Hassan has lied to all of us when he had stated that this movie is his tribute to Indian Muslims & will make them proud.
This movie had me even more worried than earlier!
The message propagated all through the course of this slick production is basically – “One Good Muslim, All the rest – Bad Muslims”.
The hero, Taufik is an Indian Muslim who saves the world, whilst the rest of the Muslims portrayed in the movie, are all committed to destruction & mayhem, all in the name of their religion.
This is the state of the world – Vishwaroopam.
Yet, let me categorically state that I do not support any cuts, or further censorship of the mobs, but will certainly strive to counter this movie & all like it – intellectually & on the ideological plane, where the true battle lies
This movie also justifies the US wars & occupation of Afghanistan in ways that even Hollywood would have felt ashamed of portraying. All this for the NRI audience I would tend to venture. My first opposition to the movie stemmed from the fact that the posters prominently posited the infamous ‘stars & stripes’ in the background & I knew that trouble was brewing. Mind you, the Indian Tri-colour is far less prominent & even missing for the most . . . so much for NRI nationalism, or for that matter that of the RNI’s, the Resident Non-Indians, the chatterati where these communal stereotypes hold sway.
And coming back to the movie, I have never ever seen so many scenes of Namaz in any single film & there is certainly a sickeningly strong overdose of Islamic imagery & the overwhelming majority of it linked to negativity & violence. The movie is one big screenplay of Namaz & Bombs, Namaz & Terror, Namaz & Violence. I wonder as to how Kamal Hassan, who is also the scriptwriter, thought that this would help the cause of Indian Muslims, knowing full well what the community has been through for the past two decades & more. The way the entire community has been ‘terrorized by the terror’ & this has led to their further demonization & isolation.
More so, the script is deeply flawed, lacks intelligence & an honest research. One would have tended to expect a little more from Bollywood after certain good movies dealing with this genre, such as ‘Dhoka’ (Mahesh Bhatt), ‘New York’ (Kabeer Khan), ‘Qurbaan’ (Saif Ali Khan), ‘My Name is Khan’ (Karan Johar & Shahrukh Khan), ‘Agent Vinod’ (Saif Ali Khan) & last but not the least ‘Tere Bin Laden’ (Abhishek Sharma), certainly the best political satire in a generation. It also had a far more genuine Bin Laden look-alike than the ones that appear in the CIA produced videos.
All of the above movies were good honest efforts & there is a common thread as well as a degree of intelligent sensitivity that has gone into researching these scripts & directing these movies, none of which faced any public opprobrium or ire, even though they were far more complex than this ignominious, outrageous ill-conceived prejudiced charade called Vishwaroopam.
Yet, I want no cuts here . . . . . . .
The two lines attributed to Rahul Bose, whom many of us consider to be our own, are the most dangerous & misleading of all the dialogues in the movie.
Rahul Bose, who plays Umar (alluding to Mullah Umar, the leader of the Taliban, I would presume), is facing an assault on his village. The Taliban have captured a few American soldiers & are on the move. The US army, attack the village where they have been led by a trace, with the help of Kamal Hassan, who plays Taufik, a RAW agent. Taufik has infiltrated the ranks of the Taliban to rise to be the ipso facto No. 2.
Wonder what the RAW itself has to comment here.
With the US helicopter gunships blazing away as they did in Vietnam & Iraq, as they do in Somalia, Yemen & Libya – & hope to in Syria – the Taliban are on the run.
Here Rahul Umar Bose makes a statement to assure his fellow Talibani’s – “Don’t worry, the Americans do not kill women & children”.
All I could think of in that Shakespearian moment was – “Et Tu Rahul!!”
To what extent can an artist such as Rahul Bose sell himself, his very moral intellect, is a question that he & many others need to seriously ponder upon.
This dialogue would be considered ridiculous & even blasphemous by the Americans themselves, who always refer to the deaths of civilians as ‘collateral damage’, but Kamal Hassan in his willful pandering has gone even beyond the worst in Hollywood.
Thus the movie further portrays the US soldier manning the gunship, feeling sorry for killing innocents, whilst the Afghans are all portrayed as dehumanized killing machines. I do not think our immediate neighbours are going to appreciate this movie very much. But who cares, our movies are a reflection of our skewed foreign policy as it does appear. And the Afghans are not exactly a market yet.
The second statement by Rahul Umar Bose is even more dangerous for Indian Muslims & for all the secular activists who have stood by the community as it was demonised, isolated & entrapped into the false-flag terror attacks that we have witnessed since the post-9/11 world. This was the phase of ‘controlled chaos’ & ‘unending perpetual state of wars’ – to use Neoconservative terms.
Here whilst talking to Kamal Taufik Hassan, Rahul Umar Bose smilingly & nonchalantly mentions that “We were also involved in the terror attacks of Malegaon, Bombay & other Indian cities”. In the Tamil & Telegu versions, Coimbatore & Madurai are mentioned.
‘Good God!!’, I exclaimed to myself, even dropping my popcorn – this movie is basically stating that the Taliban & Al Qaeda are active in India & thus certain sections of the Indian Muslim population are certainly enmeshed with the global terror network. This will prove to be catastrophic in the subconscious perceptions that tend to get ingrained deep into our reality.
This, Mr. Kamal Hassan, is going to be disastrous for Indian Muslims & we can all assure you that.
But where is the research may we ask? Have you not heard of ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, who even served in the RAW? Are you not aware that since 2007 the role of the Abhinav Bharat & Sanatan Sanstha in terror attacks across the country is being probed? Particularly in Malegaon, Nanded, Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer, Goa & another 10 more as per the statements of the Home Ministry. Actually there are more than 16 recorded cases, but we will leave that for later. All of which are further linked to the right-wing Manuwadi Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)?
Are you really unaware of these facts? Are you planning to leave the country, or had you already left India & were living in New York & are thus so ill-informed whilst writing the script, which lacks even an iota of honesty & responsibility?
And this is thus a question that we as secular activists must ask ourselves. Many Hollywood movies with a geopolitical strategic agenda are produced in tandem with the Pentagon, so as to further the Imperial agenda of global hegemony & the advancement of the Military-Security-Industrial-Corporate-Media Complex.
The Zionist dominated Hollywood target & portray Palestinians & Arabs in particular & Muslims in general as terrorists & fanatics & thus these societies need to be invaded & civilized – & their resources taken over for good measure.
This movie by Kamal Hassan in my estimation also certainly falls in that category of disinformation & propaganda to serve the cause of the Empire & to justify the wars, occupation & the genocide of the Afghan nation, as well as the people of Pakistan. Thus not even a fleeting reference to the drone attacks & the killings of innocents, of women & children – thus & as to how it continues to create & foster more & more militants & terrorists.
Then comes the part where there is a meeting between the leadership of the Taliban led by Rahul Umar & Al Qaeda-Osama Bin Laden. Here again I would request all those who have been taken in by the recent supposed assassination of OBL at the staged operation at Abbotabad, to read the excellent & well researched book by David Ray Griffin – ‘Osama Bin Laden Dead or Alive?’ (http://www.globalresearch.ca/osama-bin-laden-dead-or-alive/15601). According to many honest experts, OBL has been dead since December 15, 2001.
It is also time, actually high time, for the Indian peace movement to address the issues of the 9/11 false-flag terror attack, which has been central, seminal & defining moment of the 21st century, changing the very trajectory of international politics & leading to an era of wars, occupation & genocide. (http://www.ae911truth.org/).
Recently more than 12,500 police stations across America received petitions by peace activists stating that the attack on WTC 1, 2 & 7 were an inside job & demanding that the investigation be reopened. This movement is being spearheaded by more than 1700 architects & engineers & they have the support of many prominent intellectuals, scholars, and human-rights activists, whistle-blowers from within the CIA-FBI, as well as vast sections of American society & the numbers are growing. (http://www.ae911truth.org/downloads/documents/AE911Truth_Police_Letter.pdf)
The reason as to why we will have to grapple with these issues is that, I personally know of Muslim youth who have been quizzed about their positions on 9/11, Bin Laden & Al Qaeda. The youth have been perplexed & horrified & left wondering as to what a job application in the engineering, IT & telecom sectors have to do with their knowledge or lack off, on these issues. With Muslim children who have tried to step out of their ghettoes & seek admission in a multi-cultural milieu, being denied & told to go back where they came from. Of Muslims being denied housing in secular neighbourhoods. All these discriminative practices have also increased in the last decade – thanks to the dominant paradigm of terror.
Now, let us get back to the movie.
Soon after the carnage at Rahul Umar’s village, we are transported into America. Here Kamal Taufik Hassan is working incognito singing & dancing to songs written by Javed Akhtar (Lyricist), as any good Muslim should be. Then a terror network begins to unravel & here we have Rahul Umar now planning to explode a Dirty-Bomb made of waste radioactive material, which the good Muslim does foil, but after saying his Namaz! Whilst in the room inside wherein lies the Dirty-Bomb, is a bad Muslim, an African-American of Nigerian descent, busy offering Namaz before he is to blow the city to kingdom come.
Herein lies another serious problem with this film & that is the tarnishing of African-American Muslims as part of the global terror network. In most Hollywood movies, they are sensitive enough to portray the African American as the FBI boss, under whom the White officers serve. But here the RAW agent is working with only Whites, presumably Anglo-Saxon agents, whilst the African-American Muslim, is in tandem with the Taliban. Another case of out-sourcing I guess.
Yet again, Kamal Hassan fails in his research. The terror attacks portrayed in the film have never occurred. Also the FBI has been entrapping Muslim youth from various ethnic backgrounds & this too is a documented fact. Since there are no serious terror threats to America, the FBI actually manufactures them, as there is no other way to justify Homeland Security & it’s vast gargantuan powers & budget. FBI agents, informers, or ex-convicts working in tandem with the FBI are sent into Muslim communities with an attempt to create terrorists. During the course of the year, a couple of youth, mainly with a criminal background do get entrapped due to intensive indoctrination about the crimes of the American Empire against their people. These youth are then further induced & provided training to carry out a terror attack. Targets are indentified, funds, bombs & ammunition provided & the day that they do carry out the attack, they are apprehended red-handed. The bombs turn out to be fake & so do the guns & that is how stupid this supposed terrorists are.
This information is now available in the mainstream corporate media & should have been studied by Kamal Taufik Hassan, before trying to give the FBI a positive image in India.
This movie thus is basically a propaganda tool for the FBI, as well as the US Empire. And now apart from Hollywood, they even have some of the best known names from Bollywood to do their bidding. I wonder as to how much of the financial backing of this movie came from sources such as these & this question must be asked in all seriousness.
The plot foiled, America saved, sorry, the world saved – Rahul Umar & his Taliban cohorts decide to flee to – India for God’s sake!! Thus we end with the inevitability of Vishwaroopam II-India!
Actually Kamal Taufik Hassan, might even consider shifting the next locale to Qatar, where the ‘Good Taliban’ now have a functioning office. Here they will all have ample security as the US has a vast network of naval & airforce bases. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2003-03/20/content_789607.htm).
So Rahul Umar Bose, the FBI-CIA & Kamal Taufik Hassan can actually sort out all their problems there itself, without dragging India into the picture.
But therein lies the threat, the clear & present danger to all of us. You can imagine the next movie where Mullah Umar is in Mumbai, or Delhi, maybe in Chennai (threatening Jajayalaitha for the way she dealt with Kamal Hassan), or in Malegaon, or in Srinagar, or Hyderabad, or in the Samjhauta Express, or in Ajmer. Thus taking the blame for all the terror attacks, that now are alleged to be the handiwork of the right-wing Abhinav Bharat & Sanatan Sanstha, as per the National Investigation Agency (NIA) & certain Anti-Terror Squads (ATS).
And then, is Osama Bin Laden & his dreaded Al-Qaeda far behind in reaching India?
The fear that it will instill amongst the ordinary masses of India & the further fear & isolation towards which will be driven the Muslim community is apparent to many.
The terror of the politics of terror . . . . . . .
Also a little sincere & not-so-secret advice to film producers, directors, financiers & aspiring writers. In case you are sure that your film (or a book) is going to bomb at the box-office, be sure to include a few scenes that you may think may be offensive to the emotions of the Muslim community. Then arrange a screening prior to the release, even though your film has been cleared by the censor board – & rest assured that a few Muslims will fall prey to your trap & voila – you have your much needed controversy.
My sincere advice to the Muslim community is the following. Islam is to great a religion for one book or a movie to harm our faith. Let us overcome our insecurities & notice that the tide is turning in our favour. The protests against the film have harmed the image of the Muslim community, even more than Vishawaroopam was planned to. We need to learn to ignore certain barbs hurled at us & do not need to fall for the traps laid for us every time.
We have every right to protest & this is our constitutional & democratic right. Our strategy should have been to evoke support & call for a debate on the movie, whilst pointing out its flaws & distortions. Demanding the cuts after the censor board had cleared the movie, has harmed our image & further portrayed the community as extremist & undemocratic.
The problem with Vishwaroopam, is that it has projected only a miniscule part of the reality of the Afghan quagmire over a period of more than three decades. But one cannot deny that today the Taliban & their ilk, do represent a form of a vitiated, extremist & a violent form of Islam. From the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha’s, to the attacks on schools & clinics, to the enforced imposition of a regressive barbaric code on women, to the public flogging & stoning, to the sectarian hatred & killings, to the destruction of Sufi Mazar’s & the genocide of the Shia’s – all this is being waged in the name of Islam. This cannot be denied by any honest God-loving/fearing Muslim.
This form of extremism is indeed alien & against the very letter, grain & spirit of Islam. Let us all stand up in unison & condemn this debasement & defilement of Islam. This we really do not venture into often enough – do we honestly?
In the course of the last 2-3 years, the truth about the terror attacks is being revealed & this is due to the sustained struggle of Muslim organizations, in tandem with our secular allies, despite all the odds, with the entire media & dominant sections of the Government-intelligence-security apparatus ranged against us – but yet we have overcome all these odds. Now is the time to reach out to all the communities that make up this great & dynamic nation & expose the true facts of the terror networks that are now being revealed. (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/joining-the-dots/1068448/)
If India is not to go the way of Pakistan, with its assorted Lashkar-Frankensteins, then we have to put a stop to those religious extremist forces that threaten to destroy the unity & social fabric of our nation. Now after the statement by the Union Home Minister, the tide has clearly changed in our favour & thus let’s not undermine our struggle by isolating ourselves any further by taking to the streets in the manner that we have & I was personally both angry & ashamed at the public spectacle. There is a certain degree of double-standards, intolerance & hypocrisy within the Muslim community as well.
Also I would want to appeal here to all those who rightly advised the Muslim community on the values of freedom of expression, democracy & modernity. Kindly stand up, script & produce a movie based on the charge-sheet filed by Hemant Karkare, in a movie that can be titled ‘Bharatroopam’. I would love to see as to how many takers there would be from Bollywood, especially all the ones shouting ‘cultural terrorism’.
In terms of soft-targets, the Muslim community is far more of a soft-target, than many film makers & writers.
Yet, I will not ask for a cut, even though both my mind & my heart have suffered a few deep searing cuts.
This is because I have immense faith in the great legacy of this country. I have great faith in the teachings of Krativeer Jotiba Phule, Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar & Shaheed Bhagat Singh. I have great faith in the people of India, in our secular democracy.