Filmmakers reap creative mileage from terror

By Arpana

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) Commercial Hindi filmmakers often make movies about terrorism and communal violence, but most of them bite the dust at the box office because militants are rarely portrayed realistically in commercial Hindi cinema.

Despite the fact that it is not a hit box office formula, showman Subhash Ghai has taken up the issue in his ready-to-release movie, "Black & White", about a suicide bomber Numair Qazi, commissioned by a Muslim fundamentalist group to plant a bomb near Red Fort August 15. Releasing Friday, the film also stars Anil Kapoor.

"It's a subject that's haunted me for a while. I've given 11 hits in 16 years, but I wanted to make this film under a different banner, it's a high-concept, low-budget film. I would even describe it as sinister, full of conflict and hatred. The viewer will be enlightened to look at the world from a third point of view," Ghai was quoted as saying.

Whether the audiences and critics laud the film or not, in the past they had accepted and appreciated only those movies that portrayed characters in true light.

The few such films that have been accepted include John Matthew Matthan's "Sarfarosh", about Pakistan's proxy war in India. The film also touched upon issues like communal discord, partition and the human face of the police force.

Promoted as "fiction based on facts", starring Aamir Khan as a patriotic assistant commissioner of police and Naseeruddin Shah as a terrorist under the disguise of Pakistani singer Ghulfam, the film was a huge success at the box office.

The main reason behind its success was that it took an honest look at the reasons behind terrorism and insurgency in the country.

"The portrayal of terrorists in Indian film has a rhetoric that is totally unfounded in logic. If they say Allah-o-Akbar, it doesn't make them terrorists," said Mathan.

Before Mathan, maverick moviemaker Mani Ratnam made two critically and commercially successful films, "Roja" and "Bombay", on the same subjects. While "Roja" was about terrorism in Kashmir, "Bombay" portrayed the communal violence that rocked he city after the Babri Masjid demolition.

Anurag Kashyap's "Black Friday", that visited the conspiracy behind the 1993 Mumbai blast, too earned critical acclaim because it delivered the truth in a very realistic manner.

Recently Yash Chopra, who is known for making romances, produced a film on terrorism. Starring Aamir Khan and Kajol in the leads "Fanaa" was directed by Kunal Kohli, who earned flak for clumsy direction. But despite bad reviews, the film raked in moolah at the box office.

Other movies worth mentioning include Govind Nihalani's "Drohkal", Ayesha Dharker starrer "Terrorist" and Ratnam's critically-acclaimed "Kannathil Mutthamittal".

However, the list of unsuccessful films is quite long and includes "Fiza", "Dil Se", "Mission Kashmir", "Sheen", "Dhokha", "Qayamat: City Under Threat", "Hindustan Ki Kasam", "Zameen", "Pukar", "Dus", "Yahaan", "Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota" and "December 16".

The major drawbacks of these films are that the fictional terrorists don't resemble the real ones.

Sunny Deol delivered an array of flops on the same theme, including "Jaal: The Trap" and "Jo Bole So Nihaal".

Filmmakers took to terrorism as plots for their movies in a big way post 9/11. After "Black & White", Britain based filmmaker Jagmohan Mundhra's "Shoot At Sight" will hit the marquee.

Terror is so compelling a plot that even pulp filmmaker Karan Johar has decided to break away from his tradition of lavish family dramas and romances to make a movie about terrorism starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. It will be titled "Khan".

Pakistani director Shoaib Mansoor's controversial "Khuda Kay Liye", which dwells on the same issue, is scheduled to hit the Indian marquee. Mansoor's film shows how the fundamentalists abet terrorism by brain washing youths.

However, denouncing terrorism in all its manifestations, top Muslim groups and Islamic Seminary Darul Uloom recently adopted a declaration calling terrorism "un-Islamic" and terming it against the Islamic principle of "peace".

The declaration, adopted by 10,000 participants, also criticised attempts to malign Muslims and madrassas.

"Islam is a religion of mercy for all humanity. It condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism and regards oppression, mischief, rioting and murder among the severest crimes. Islam prohibits killing of innocent people," the declaration said.

The conference expressed concern on the present global condition wherein nations are adopting an adverse attitude towards Muslims and condemned attempts to implicate Muslims and religious institutions for terrorist acts.

"Whenever there's any such incident, every possible attempt is made to link it to Muslims and particularly those who have studied in madrassas. This is wrong," said Adil Siddiqui, public relations officer of Darul Uloom.

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