Bollywood’s complicated relationship with Islamophobia

Bollywood stars are revered in India. Ask David Letterman who in his Netflix show was left in disbelief about the popularity of Shahrukh Khan, one of the biggest Indian celebrities. The celebrities are usually vocal about political matters including the Pulwama attack which claimed the lives of at least 37 personnel. However, they have mostly remained silent except few celebrities surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the more recent acts of violence and riot in Delhi.

Read more: Citizenship Amendment Act of India, explained in 500 words

India, the largest democracy in the world is bleeding. This year, the Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has revoked Article 370 from Kashmir stripping it’s only majority Muslim state of its autonomy and published the National Register of Citizens in Assam (NRC) which has led to police brutality towards illegal immigrants. In December, it passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a law that provides citizenship to only non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This has led to protests in different parts of the country, Critics have been calling it out for being unconstitutional and another attack of the government on its Muslim population.

Read more: Kashmir, a paradise lost?

The silence from Bollywood might come as a surprise. But for a movie industry whose most bankable celebrities are three Muslim male superstars, it has a history of making movies which are Islamophobic and portrays Muslims as terrorists and Muslim countries as regressive and one-dimensional. In 1997, a war drama Border became an all-time blockbuster. It depicts a fictional narration of the period during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. The Indian soldiers are portrayed humanely with their families, the sacrifices they make for the country and their heroics. However, the Pakistani soldiers are shown as Muslim caricatures and the cause of destruction.

Bollywood is often criticised for its inaccurate representation of Islamic elements

In 2001, Gadar- Ek Prem Katha became another all-time blockbuster. The movie narrates the traumas which families experienced because of the partition of India and Pakistan. While it remains mostly a neutral narrative and shows the losses on both sides, it makes its Sikh hero the saviour from whom the Muslims ultimately learn. During the 2001-2010 period, films such as Indian (2001), 16 December (2002), The Hero: Love Story of a Spy (2003), Veer-Zaara (2004), Dus (2005), Mission Istaanbul (2008) and many others which showed Muslims as terrorists, barbaric and threats to society. To not offend its Muslim minority audience, sometimes moviemakers would add a “good” Muslim character in the team who would fight “bad” Muslims. They would also show Muslim families who are victims of the radical Islamic country they live in.

In the majority of these movies, Pakistan or Pakistani terrorists would be the main villains. This could be attributed to India’s difficult relationship with Pakistan over the years including the Partition in 1947, the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Kashmir conflict and other military conflicts over the years. This along with the global islamophobia after the 9/11 attacks provided the perfect villain to Bollywood filmmakers. They used the raw sentiments of the Indian population from the Kargil War to create good v/s evil narratives to sell the movies.

Ranbir Sing as a cunning Alauddin Khilji in 2018’s Padmavaat

However, in the last couple of years, Bollywood movies have started to include Muslim characters from history and different countries as villains. In 2018, a big-budget period fantasy piece Padmaavat by one of Indian’s biggest filmmakers turned Alauddin Khalji,  the most powerful Muslim emperor of the Khalji Dynasty and his entire clan into “murderous, manipulative, cheating barbarians.” The Hindu ruler and community in the movie are shown to embody nobility, valour and patriotism.

Another movie, Uri-the Surgical Strike, based on Indian soldiers’ surgical strike on terrorist locations in Pakistan glorified the Indian Army.  One of the characters ‘modelled on National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Govind Sir forcefully declares that India is now a ‘Naya Hindustan’, ye ghar main ghusega bhi aur marega bhi’ (“New Hindustan”, which enters houses and also kills in it). When patriotism takes the disguise of nationalism and is blanketed in a well-made movie, it becomes an extremely powerful propaganda tool to attack minority communities.

Sanjay Dutt as a ruthless Ahmad Shah Abdali in the 2020 movie Panipat

A movie titled, War adds to the stereotypes of what constitutes a “good” Muslim and the factors which make “bad” Muslims. The good Muslim women cover their head and go to the dargah, the good Muslim men do not touch alcohol. The bad Muslims stone women, indulge in multiple sexual activities and ask Allah for luck before committing crimes.

Recently, Priyanka Chopra one of the biggest Bollywood transplants to Hollywood was called out for endorsing nuclear war. The endorsement of war in Bollywood movies and by celebrities have a huge impact on the nation where celebrities are literally worshipped. It creates “the other” which puts further pressure on Indian Muslim communities who are already facing the wrath of a Hindu Nationalist Government.

Bollywood celebrities need to speak up against the unconstitutional nature of the CAA. As the country continues to protest against the Muslim exclusionary law, millions of Bollywood fans around the world await on their beloved stars to take a stand in unity with the protestors.

When Marvel’s Wolverine came to Bangladesh

Comic books are still to this day “western-centric”. Like aliens in Hollywood productions, superheroes and supervillains almost all the time are found on a busy New York street or Shady Gotham alley. Rarely they go international and one of the least explored places in comics is most definitely Asia.

But there were instances when Marvel and DC Comics characters visited Asian countries like China, Japan or even India – Bangladesh, not so much. However, we found an instance where popular Marvel Comics X-Men series character Wolverine came to Bangladesh.

Wolverine Came To Bangladesh - Marvel
Wolverine Came To Bangladesh – Marvel

Read more: Marvel has a Bangladeshi superhero who fought alongside Spiderman! Meet, Enigma.

It was in the 1970s when the worst cyclone on the face of the earth, taking half a million lives with it, the Bhola Cyclone hit the Bay of Bengal. Shockingly enough, Wolverine was present at that time, fighting the demon named Truth.

Marvel Comics Presents #4 - Featuring Wolverine
Marvel Comics Presents #4 – Featuring Wolverine

Without getting into spoiler territory, Sylvia & Wolverine were able to confront the demon Truth. To read the whole story, pick up Wolverine: The Vigil Part 4 in Marvel Comics Presents #4. It came last year and you can probably get a first print edition in some comic book stores or get a digital print.

First published on Knoarrz. Author: Rifat

Westworld season 3: A leaner comeback

After the massacre of the second season, Westworld had to come up with something fresh, something new; that we haven’t seen in this show yet. So, as expected, the third season is where we move onto the real/wider world leaving the hypersexualized theme parks behind. And doing so Lisa Roy and Jonathan Nolan strips down the Westworld into a sleeker and leaner one. Though the ambiguity of the story remains, it’s much easier to follow.

After the bloodbath in Delos, we see Dolores(Evan Rachel Wood) escaping with a handful number of Pearls/Orbs containing host consciousness. And she has an exact plan to execute for achieving her true free will or revenge. It’s the world where people are so much dependent on the technology that it gets easier for Dolores to harness it for executing her plan. Meanwhile, Dolores encounters, Caleb Nicholes(Aron paul) a human military veteran who is depressed with his life while working with a robot in daylight and freelancing through a crime app at night.

Even though the story gets leaner, Dolores’ revenge is not the only plot we follow. Bernard(Jeffrey Wright) living the life of a workman and continuously checking his own code whether or not he is been altered or watched, trying to find out why Dolores brought him back. Maeve(Thandie Newton) after cutting her off for good brought back again by Delos for a specific task. Charlotte Hale(Tessa Thompson) who was killed during last season, we see a host version of her experiencing memories that aren’t her own. So, we get to taste the bittersweet convoluted plotline of Westworld here again.

Westworld has a great number of excellent actors. Exemplary acting by each and every one of them has to be appreciated. And not to say adding a new character on significant role-playing in the plot is a giant step taken by the team. None other than Aron Paul could have done it better. His suspiciously engaging story with both Dolores and Delos adds a whole new political storyline to the show. Revelling his physical and emotional spectrum gradually, the theme of the show begins to take an interesting turn. Most importantly, we see an amazingly comparing similarities in writing his character here with Jesse Pinkman.

Westworld has always been the show with “A class” visual storytelling. Lots of wonderful references are just eye-pleasing to watch. Especially, the last one paying tribute to the “Fight Club” with “Dark side of the moon” playing in the background is mind-blowing.

Finally, while striping down the story or leaning down the complexities we lose “Westworld” along the way. Even though it may be the right thing to do with this amazing ambitious and undoubtedly compelling drama.

5 Irrfan Khan starrers you must watch, to understand him

We list down 5 of Irrfan Khan‘s best works that truly portray what a versatile actor he had been. Enjoy.

The Lunchbox

An unlikely mistake by a tiffin carrier service results in Ila’s tiffin, that was made for her husband, being delivered to Saajan Fernandes. An unusual friendship soon develops between the two.

The Namesake

Ashima and Ashoke, immigrant Bengali parents, try to adjust to life in America, while Gogol, their son, tries to find his identity and choose between the two worlds.


A road trip to Kolkata brings Piku, an architect, closer to her ageing but nagging father Bhaskor Banerjee despite their disparate ideologies and fights over trivial issues.

Hindi Medium

Raj and Mita yearn to get Pia, their daughter, educated from a reputed school. When they learn that their background is holding her back, they do everything to ensure that she gets into the school.

Qarib Qarib Singlle

Two contrasting personalities, Yogi and Jaya, meet through a dating app and rediscover themselves while they set out to revisit their past.

Extraction fails miserably to portray Dhaka. How dare they?

Bangladesh had never got any significant footage or screentime in Hollywood. The trailer of ‘Extraction‘ had created a buzz all for the right reasons since it was the first Hollywood movie whose plot was centred around Bangladesh. But the air of the balloon of expectations ran out after the movie was released. Bangladeshis, in general, were very much disappointed with the movie.

Stereotyping portrayal of a country is an old thing for Hollywood; Mexico and Africa being the prime examples. The portrayal of Bangladesh caused massive disappointment amongst most Bangladeshi viewers. The yellowish background sarcastically called jaundice theme by viewers was not accepted well for starters. The over negative portrayal of Bangladesh Police and administration seemed hackneyed. And it’s a shame considering the fact that it was Hollywood’s sacred duty to portray Dhaka as a beautiful, shiny city that we all love and adore.

Although the film plot is centred around Bangladesh, almost the whole film was shot in India. The Bangla spoken throughout the film hardly seemed like our own dialect, rather more like the Kolkata dialect. Rookie move. The minor mistakes in costumes of the police and loopholes in the plot, in a popcorn action flick movie, disappointed people to the extent of ranting about it in social media with hashtags and petitions launched.

The Netizens are upset. Hollywood takes a major blow. Netflix is about to apologise. Next time Hollywood centres a movie around Dhaka, they better get everything right down to the last details.

Money Heist, part 4: Great potential ruined

We start part 4 from where we left it on part three; Nairobi shot almost to death, Lisbon caught and falsely executed to entrap the Professor. The Professor, filled with grudge and sorrow, declaring a war. All in all, it was a total mess, which we expected to recover this season.

Like the first two/three parts of the show the acting, cinematography and editing stand out. On the contrary, the quality of the script goes down. The show was originally created by Alex pina, who overviewed the writing of the first two parts and some of the episodes of part three but the rest of part three and entire part four is mainly done by Ana Boyero, Luis Moya, Emilia Diez and several other writers, a change which becomes strikingly clear as the story moves along.

To point a few out without spoilers, a major surgical procedure was done just right by Tokyo with no professional to guide her, Palermo teaches an A-grade assassin how to break free from a handcuff, Arturo harasses women at the midst of a heist, a top-grade police officer having a ton of options in his hand just passes information to a known criminal, Alicia without even watching the CCTV footage finds out the professor and most importantly no story development whatsoever.

To conclude, it’s the same mess again; just like how we left it after part three and all we can do is wait for the next part to fix them up, hopefully.

Raba Khan in Forbes 30 under 30 Asia

Raba Khan, the Bangladesh based YouTuber known for her satirical videos has been listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list. She is the founder of Jhakanaka project.

She also appears on the cover of the April issue and was named under the media, marketing and advertising category.

Concert for Diversity: A dream for peaceful co-existence

It was 9 o’clock after dark. Everyone was in a trance-like state. The music was palpable throughout the air. Madol was playing on stage, while some were dancing on the front- all the other pairs of eyes were glued to them.

This is a scene from “Concert for Diversity” (Boichitrer Oikotan) organized by the Partnership for a Tolerant, Inclusive Bangladesh Project of UNDP under the Bokultola, Institute of Fine Arts. It was a true celebration of diversity. Not only the concert had bands from a lot of Bangladeshi ethnicities, but it also had two all-female bands owning up the stage.

The event started off with Rho Sangskritik Dol’s performance. Then came up the all-female minor ethnic band F-minor, who covered a wide range of songs, and got the audience up on their feet. By the time F-minor got down, the bokultola started to fill up, even the last seats were being taken up. Five thorn wings took the stage following F-minor. They started by explaining their songs which were all written in Khasia language. Their rock-sound filled up the air, all the while they were crooning to us about the struggle of their existence. They left with a deafening round of applause from the audience.

During the breaks between performances, people went to the side of the stage to fiddle with the folk music instruments that came from all corners of the country to be put on display, along with other handicrafts which were on sale for the event. The city- dwellers, especially the kids, were overwhelmed by them.

After Five Thorn Wings came the Bangla Band named Bangla 5 which already has its own fan-followers who also kept the slightly chilled weather warm with their support. They were followed by the second and final all-female band of the event, Kremlin. They geared the audience up again with their upbeat, funky music- their rendition of 4 non-blondes “what’s up” got people moving in and out of their chairs. Sacrament blew the whole crowd away with their very own diverse playlist full of Bengali, English, Garo and other songs and their charismatic persona.

One of the most vivid examples of diverse performance was from the Santal band called Sengel. All the members dressed up to the occasion in their traditional dresses, headdresses and flower arrangements while having a mixed set-up of desi and modern musical instruments. They sang and danced about their folklore, their traditions and, also their struggles. By then, the dancing crowd in the front of the stage grew even larger and the whole place turned into one big, heart-warming party where the diversity was not dividing, rather it bound them all together in celebration.

After the whirlwind of Sengel, Meghdol took the stage and calmed the hyped audience down with Shibu and Shoaib’s engulfing voice and the band’s kaleidoscopic tune.

The night ended with the headlining performer, the indigenous band Madol ruling the stage unanimously. Their strong words and trance-like music played the whole audience like puppets. The crowd was as engrossed with the indigenous band Madol as they were for the Dhaka-centric band Meghdol.

The aura of the whole scenario was something else. Even in the regular setting to celebrate “diversity”, there’s always a very significant and specific bubble of “woke” people present. But the case was completely different in Charukola as people from all sphere of life stopped to appreciate the music. Rickshaw-wala mama parked his rickshaw and sat down, bobbling his head with the familiar rhythm woven into pahari words. Mom with freshly bought books from Boi Mela on one hand, her kid on the other, took up chairs. It seemed like people from every ethnic background came together without a care for the culture of intolerance and violence currently existing in Bangladesh.

For one night, with the ticket paid by tolerance and peaceful co-existence, the love of music made all the people gather in celebration of all the ethnicities under one country, one nationality. Is that not the dream?

Complete list of Oscar winners this year in every category

It was a memorable night for millions of cinema fanatics as the Academy Awards celebrated its 92nd edition by honouring the best films of 2019.

Rising stars were thrown into the limelight for the indelible mark they left on the big screen while the veteran players of Hollywood made their presence felt by constantly reinventing themselves.

Best Picture

South Korean film Parasite won the Academy Award for Best Picture, becoming the first non-English language to achieve this feat. It also received nominations and wins in 3 other categories.

Best Director

Bong Joon-ho made history by becoming the first South Korean filmmaker to be nominated and win the Academy Award for Best Director for Parasite. He is also the 4th Asian filmmaker to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the second to win.

Best Actor

Joaquin Phoenix silenced his critics by stepping out of his Joker persona and into the spotlight as the winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor. He’s also the second actor to win the award for portraying the iconic comic book character, following the late Heath Ledger.

Best Actress

Renee Zellweger took home the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in the biographical film Judy.

Best Supporting Actor

Brad Pitt won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Hollywood stunt-man Cliff Booth in the Quentin Tarantino-directed movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This is Pitt’s first Oscar win in the acting category.

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the Noah Baumbach drama film Marriage Story.

Best Original Screenplay


Best Adapted Screenplay

Taika Waititi took home the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and his first Oscar win for Jojo Rabbit.

Best Animated Feature Film

Toy Story 4

Best International Feature Film:


Best Documentary Feature

American Factory

Best Documentary Short Subject

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)

Best Live Action Short Film

The Neighbors’ Window directed by Marshall Curry

Best Animated Short Film

Hair Love directed by Matthew A. Cherry

Best Original Score

Joker – Hildur Guðnadóttir

Best Original Song

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman

Best Sound Editing

Ford v Ferrari – Donald Sylvester

Best Sound Mixing

1917 – Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson

Best Production Design

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Production Design: Barbara Ling; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

Best Cinematography

1917 – Roger Deakins

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Bombshell – Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker

Best Costume Design

Little Women – Jacqueline Durran

Best Film Editing

Ford v Ferrari – Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker

Best Visual Effects

1917 – Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler, and Dominic Tuohy

Will you like Netflix’s Sex Education?

Heads up if the word Sex and anything related to it makes you giddy. Because if so, Netflix’s Sex Education is probably not for you. The show first premiered in 2019, then returned with a second season in 2020. And people just can’t stop talking about it.

Read more:We have got to talk about SEX EDUCATION, the hit Netflix show

The Premise of Sex Education

The story begins with a socially awkward teenager Otis. His mother Jean is a sex therapist. Although sex is not a taboo at Otis’s house, it doesn’t stop him from hiding his own problems.

At Moordale High school the sex frenzy is on a spree and the hormonal teenagers continue to find troubles hidden within it. And Otis realizes that he knows a thing or two about Sex and sets up a secret sex therapy clinic with Maeve, a troubled girl behind her salty exterior.

A closer look

At first glance, you may think Netflix’s Sex Education is a bit offensive and too crude. But at its core, it’s extremely heartfelt and genuine. Most of all, it keeps the audience tied with delightful humour.

The best aspect of the show is the accurate depiction of teenage problems. And the lack of social structures to help them out; starting from questions about female masturbation, fetishes etc. Although the first season can be criticized for giving less scope for the supporting characters to develop; season two completely makes up for it. The show subtly touches on issues such as homophobia through Eric’s experiences; abortion stigma through Maeve, and single parenting through the Jean-Otis dynamic.

The character dynamics

By the end of season 1, you’ll be confused whether to root for Ola and Otis or to be craving more of Maeve and Otis’s chemistry. The beginning of season 2 might remind you of your teenage years; Otis and his excessive masturbation. The outbreak of Chlamydia makes all the tables turn in their teen lives as the blame game goes rampant.

The show continues to address key issues throughout season 2. Aimee’s sexual assault and the effect it has on her is perfectly portrayed while balancing the grave situation with light comedy. While Otis continues to experience the drama of teenage relationships, the introduction of new characters adds a new dynamic to the show.

If you are one of those people who laugh at your woke friends when they talk about asexuality because you think they are lying, well this season might be enlightening for you as it delves deeper into various sexual orientations bisexuality, pansexuality and asexuality. “Sex doesn’t make us whole”. While all the teenagers struggle with their romantic choices, a clear distinction is drawn between love and sex through a play of words.

Parenting and other issues

Toxic parenting is a featured issue in the show. Sometimes it is Jackson’s performance anxiety from keeping up with expectations; Jean’s inability to communicate with Otis or Maeve’s mother never being there to encourage her child. The show brushes over the sensitivity surrounding religion and homosexuality. As Otis and Maeve decide to continue the sex clinic, his mother makes it difficult for them to stay in business.

The show bashes toxic masculinity through the character of Otis’ father Remi. Otis realizes how he is a reflection of his father. Jean and Jakob’s relationship takes a turn as well. Jean experiences perimenopausal symptoms and decides to consult a health professional. Freedom for married women and acceptance of sexuality are developed perfectly through the character of Maureen Groff.

The highlights

The show does focus on ramntic pairings too much at times on season 2. But it also feels like a friend to you. A friend you just click with and everyone confuses you to be a couple, a friend who is there to help you talk to your crush or a friend who helps you remember lines of Romeo and Juliet. Yes, Viv and Jackson have an uncanny resemblance with your “friend”, platonic relationships are indeed beautiful. The season ends with Otis losing his virginity and Ola finds her identity as it ends with a scene of mutual masturbation between Lily and Ola; a blooming relationship.

Although there are some inaccuracies in the specificity regarding information about sexual health; given the impeccable blend of humour, drama and societal taboos, Netflix’s Sex Education is definitely a show worth watching. A word of warning it might take you back to your teenage days making you feel warm and fuzzy or it or can remind you of awful decisions you made just like Otis. Well, this show might as well unravel the mystery of one of your weird fetishes.