"criminalises normal Muslim behaviour"
Some have claimed that Sooryavanshi (2021) promotes Islamophobia.
The crime drama, starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, was released on Friday, November 5, 2021.
It is the fourth part of director Rohit Shetty’s ‘Cop Universe’. with Kumar playing an Indian Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief.
His character, DCP Veer Sooryavanshi, was introduced towards the end of Simmba (2018) which starred Ranveer Singh.
However, many criticised the movie, saying that it includes Islamophobic tropes, including Pakistani President Arif Alvi.
He tweeted: “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.
“Milton Kandera wrote that ‘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.”
Pakistani actress Mehwish Hayat agreed and wrote on her Instagram Story:
“Sooryavanshi is the latest film in Bollywood promoting Islamophobia.
“The tide is turning in Hollywood and I hope that across the border they will also follow suit.
“As I’ve said, if not positive depictions, at least be fair in the way that you show Muslims. Build bridges not hatred!”
Many journalists and publications from across the world also made the same allegations.
Indian journalist Rana Ayyub wrote in the Washington Post:
“The film stokes the dangerous ‘love jihad’ conspiracy, which paints Muslim men as colluding to seduce or kidnap Hindu women or girls and convert them to Islam.
“Sooryavanshi is one of the most successful films in India after the Covid-19 lockdowns were eased.
“Its success contributes to the climate of hate and discrimination that India’s estimated 200 million Muslims must face everyday.”
She added: “Every third frame of the film is a bloodcurdling Islamophobic image.
“The film does not even pretend to mask its agenda – which is the right-wing Hindu nationalist agenda of Modi’s government.”
British Muslim actor Riz Ahmed retweeted Ayyub’s tweet.
— Riz Ahmed (@rizwanahmed) November 15, 2021
Writing for The Quint, Aditya Menon mentioned that the movie “criminalises normal Muslim behaviour.”
He said it did this by associating “things that a large number of Indian Muslims feel, say or do in their daily life” with terrorists.
Devika Girish of the New York Times noted the “film’s uncritical jingoism,” adding:
“The film is rife with gleeful scenes of police brutality and pernicious stereotypes about Muslims.
“Whenever Sooryavanshi is confronted about Islamophobia (an increasingly urgent issue in India), he starts singing the praises of the single Muslim cop on his force as if to remind everyone what a ‘good Muslim’ looks like.”
It has already surpassed all expectations by earning Rs. 26 Crore (£2.5 million) on its first day despite mixed reviews from critics.
This has made it Bollywood’s biggest ever opening following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Various cinemas across Mumbai also reportedly had to put on last minute, post-midnight showings of Sooryavanshi due to its popularity.