Vishwaroopam: Stereotyping Muslims as terrorist in Indian cinema

By Mohammed Tanveer for,

In the current era of 3G, the cinema occupies an underlying character which is impersonated in the daily walks of life. ‘Taare Zameen Per’ starring Darsheel Sarfary and Aamir Khan, compelled many parents to question the current educational system, Rang De Bansathi instigated a new mode of peaceful protest against the injustice and movies like Chak De India made us feel proud to be an Indian. The younger generation updates their looks by replicating the looks of the actors in movies. More over dialogues and songs of movies make deep impression as they get used in day today life. On the other side a marginalized section of our nation the Muslims are being painted black through this medium of media as terrorist or say villain which marks bad impression and raise enmity among Indians.

Support TwoCircles

In Indian movies Muslims are persons who have beard wearing salwar kameez some time smartly dressed as an executive usually says “Allah ki raha main kafiron ko maar ke jannat milay gi” (If you kill infedels in the way of Allah you will get paradise), say “Inshallah hum kamiyaab hon ge” when a person is assigned the duty of suicidal bombing. Even if language of movie is not Hindi the terrorist character will speak in Urdu only. And the most of the characters that portray the role of underworld mafias are shown as Muslims. And these characters definitely say “Assalamalikum” and “Masha Allah” and indulge in killing, extortion, drugs smuggling and women trafficking.

Press Conference on 3.1.13, Popular Front State President A.S. Ismail (left), Federation President Maulana Abdul Rahman (addressing in the centre)

The dream project of Kamal Hassan ‘Vishwaroopam’ is the new feather in stereotyping Muslims as terrorist. The film ‘Vishwaroopam’ was recently screened to the Muslim leaders in Tamil Nadu after the film was alleged anti Muslim by the Muslim community on basis of clipping of the movie in the trailer. But this allegation become evident after the special screening as the film had portrayed Muslims and Islam in bad light. The film portrays Muslim with a beard as a terrorist waiting for an opportunity to plant a bomb.

Fakrudeen (Popular Front of India -TN State Executive Council Member) who was among the leaders who viewed the screening said, “The film gives the image that Quran is the root-cause of terrorism and there are abundant scences hurting the Islamic sentiments. It shows that the Muslim character in the film carryout each and every terror activity either after reading Quran or Quran verses are being recited in the back ground at the time of terror activity done by him”.

The films depicts Muslims as barbaric, more over every section of Muslim community from children to elders are shown as terrorist.

Films are platform of media which entertain and educate the public regarding the current scenarios with affecting the harmony or hurting anyone’s belief. The guidelines of the Central Government’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the Censor Board of Film Certification clearly states that the visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups should not be presented in the film and the public order should not be endangered. But these guidelines are regularly ignored by the Censor Board and especially in the case of Vishwaroopam which incitements communal hatred and breach of peace as well as promoting enmity between classes. And the film gives the negative impact on the Muslims to the viewers.

Meeting with Kamal Hasan, Kamal Haasan (Left Middle), Ahmed Fakrudeen, SEC Member of Popular Front (Right)

Prof Jawahirrullah MLA (Manithaneya Makkal Katchi) said, “The film carries the pack of lies that Kamal Haasan shows that Taliban leader Mulla Umar was hiding in Madurai and Coimbatore, which is an absolute contrary to the truth”.

Abdul Sattar (Social Democratic Party of India- TN State Secretary) who also view the movie said, “let them make movies against terrorism we have no issue with that but in stake of defeating terrorism the movie plots Muslims and their culture as demons, cruel creatures and an intolerant community. It has abundant dialogues which indirectly make fun of Islam religion. This is anti Muslim documentary filmed with latest technology at par to the international standards”.

In the film Kamal Hassan plays the role of RAW agent who in disguise as a Kashmiri Militant in association with CIA defeats the terrorist around the globe especially in Afghanistan and film end will the promise of sequel of Vishwaroopam which would tackle terrorism in India.

After the agitations and petitions by the confederation of Muslim organization and political parties Vishwaroopam has banned for two weeks in Tamil Nadu. Vishwaroopam was scheduled to release in Telugu on January 25 and in Hindi on February 1 in other parts of the nation also and will telecasted in television via DTH on February 2, 2013. The Madras High Court too has upheld the order and deferred the release, till it sees the film.
For the record, Kamal Hassan has said, “Any neutral and patriotic Muslim will surely feel pride on seeing my film.”

This is not the first incident where Kamal Haasan has done an irresponsible act. In 1992, while Thevar Magan got into trouble for allegedly portraying the ‘Thevar’ community, a dominant caste in South Tamil Nadu, and identifying them with glorified violence, Virumaandi in 2004 was embroiled in controversy for similar reasons. The film, which was originally titled ‘Sandiyar’, drew flack and the team was forced to change it to ‘Virumaandi’.

Even before its release in theatres, Hey Ram, Kamal Haasan’s ambitious venture in 2000 came under serious criticism, especially by the Congress party for reportedly hurting public sentiment and showing Mahatma Gandhi in bad light. Protests were held throughout the country, screens were burnt down or pelted with stones and even the audience was attacked in places.

This was not the scenario of the Indian films in the past, when Muslims were portrayed as innocent Kashmiris, true friends, savior and trust worth. But after the fall of Communism (Russia), America need an enemy to continue its imperialism it started propagation portraying Muslims as terrorist through all means of medium. Hollywood became the favorite tool of imperial forces to demonize the Muslim community. Slowly after 90’s Indian cinema also got affect with this mindset of depicting Muslims as terrorist.

There are enough guidelines for the censor board through which movies or scenes harming communal harmony and breeding hatred can be banned. It is alarming how a movie like Vishwaroopam gets cleared from the board. Thus it seems a people movement is the need of hour to teach the board to work efficiently.


The writer is a Delhi based human rights activist who can be contacted at [email protected]

With inputs from Advocate Mohammed Yusuf – Madurai