Sunday, September 07, 2008

Where does Aamir lead us?

Aamir is being celebrated as a brilliant film by many critics and common viewers alike. The film has also done very good business at the box office, rather unusual for an offbeat film like this.

I am not too concerned about this nor am I suprised at it, but I am worried when it gets labeled as a film that breaks the stereotype of Muslims in Bollywood, and in the psyche of the Middle class (majorly Hindu) India in general. I had heard some people talk of the 'sensitive portrayal of Indian Muslim' in this film, and then there was this article Beyond prisms of prejudice by Ziya Us Salam [The Hindu Magazine, Sunday 24 August 2008].

That is a matter of concern because Aamir in fact upholds precisely those very stereotypes.

Which is why I felt it was only natural for this film to have such a 'universal' appeal among the Middle class Hindu India.

In one line, the film's premise is that Muslims are out to terrorize the nation. 'Brothers' sending in money from all over the world, the kingpins misleading the educated youth by brainwashing them and using them as pawns, the ordinary poor Muslims on the streets silently approving of all this with a smile on their face that they know this is how it works. And we have an exception in the lead character of the film who turns from a victimized, helpless position to be a real Aamir (leader) by refusing to be part of it.

[If that weren't enough, the film tells us through its hero -- Aamir, the real leader -- that he has overcome difficulties by his hard work and become a doctor working abroad, and that is the way to go for the community to get out of the poverty and bad living conditions. Is it any surprise if it finds many takers among the anti-reservation warhead of the elite Brahman class?]

Honestly, I feel this guy is much more dangerous than a bearded terrorist Muslim villain of Bollywood. (We have seen this 'achche Muslims bhi hote hai' caricature also many times in mainstream Bollywood itself).

Aamir might have its directorial high points (I particularly liked the presentation of the villain), but let us not give it the sensitive film tag. This film takes the rotten path, feeding the most insensitive and unhealthy of the psyches precisely what they crave for. That is it.

If you want to catch a more sensible film on a similar theme, try Mumbai Meri Jaan.

[Image edited from a poster at the film's web site]
[Thanks to my friend Bhakti who took me for Aamir]


sudeep said...

The movie made me recall one scary day in my life when I was asked questions similar to the questions that are posed to the protagonist of the film -- What do you plan to do in life for our community (that is under attack). I was not given a briefcase but was asked to be part of something equally (or even more) lethal -- injecting hatred in young minds.

I refused the offer to join that army to save the nation and community from the Muslim and Christian enemies. I guess there is a scope for a film but alas, my name is not Aamir :-(

Shahina Nafeesa said...

Hii Sudeep,
i havnt seen the movie,ur post prompts me to do.i will take the cd from you,any way.
even without watching the film,i would like to add a comment
through out my life,i am confused over a question; i dont know what and how to answer.the question comes from all sources like,in occassions when i meet a person for the first time,or during the time of being close to those whom i know...or in an interview,some times official some times not..

the question is;


anish said...

it can be an interesting theme yaar,
titled my name is sudeep :)
some day please write about your visit to the ekal vidyalay

xyz said...

sudeep, nice post
have not seen aamir
and so cant understand what happened to him.
how does he become 'aamir?' ..
that is not clear.
and what is the connection to your experience? where? when was it?
and what exactly was it?
can u make all this clear if u have time energy etc etc..

xyz+ said...

and sudeep, what about "a wednesday" - its also another "aamir" type movie i think - many people (see all the rave reviews on the net) liked both 'aamir' and 'a wednesday' - urban people love this kind of (anti) muslim representations i suppose - they must be feeling so good that they are not like the poor folks lapping up films like 'gaddar'!

Anand Nair said...

Oh, I shared the same sentiments after seeing the movie. It was a shocking portrayal of the muslim community in total, and whatever being tried to communicate through the struggles of Amir and his family for denial to the method was not registered as the ultimate theme of the movie. Shocking!

I also heard that Amir is a frame by frame remake of a Vietnamese movie!