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President Alvi, actor Riz Ahmed slam ‘Islamophobic’ Indian film Sooryavanshi

Bollywood film Sooryavanshi starring Akshay Kumar in lead role. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed has expressed his disgust while Pakistani President Arif Alvi has shown his disappointment at the Bollywood film Sooryavanshi for its Islamophobic content.

Indian journalist Rana Ayyub recently wrote an article highlighting the ‘Islamophobic’ elements in the cop-drama directed by filmmaker Rohit Shetty starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif in lead roles, calling it “yet another exercise in criminal Islamophobia that seeks to normalise Narendra Modi’s anti-Muslim agenda. She claimed that it “feeds into the Muslim as terrorist narrative.”

President Alvi in a tweet said, “Dangerous for India. In this Islamophobic hatred, India will destroy itself. No less, I hope and pray that sane elements within Indian society prevent this.”

Alvi went on to quote Milton Kandera, who had said, “The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, destroy its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long that nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was… The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

Highlighting it on social media, she wrote, “One of the biggest films that is making waves in Indian theatres is yet another exercise in criminal Islamophobia that seeks to normalise (Indian prime minister) Narendra Modi’s anti-Muslim agenda. My latest on Sooryavanshi that feeds into the Muslim as the terrorist narrative.”

Oscar-nominated actor Riz Ahmed, who next stars in Michael Pearce’s sci-fi film Encounter, retweeted Ayyub’s tweet on his page with a emoji showing disgust. He has previously noted how Muslim characters are mostly portrayed in negative light in English-language films.

When an Indian publication asked director Shetty about the portrayal of Muslim characters in the film, he instead questioned why Hindu villains in previous films Singham (2011), Singham 2 (2014) and Simmba (2018), did not draw similar reactions. Shetty said there was no specific agenda in his film’s villains being from a certain caste or religion in Sooryavanshi.

“If I ask you one question, Jaikant Shikre (in Singham) was a Hindu Marathi. Then in Simmba, Durva Ranade was a Maharashtrian. The negative forces were Hindu but why isn’t that a problem?”

Sooryavanshi is the first big-ticket Bollywood film to be released in cinemas after an 18-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The film also has cameos by Ranveer Singh and Ajay Devgan. Sooryavanshi has shattered several box office records ever since its release on November 5, coinciding with Diwali.

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