Bollywood The Latest Victim of Color Politics in India
In India, Bollywood is considered a culture, and artists are a divinity. The industry, including films and performers, has long impacted social transformation, Indian identity construction, and national politics.
The film industry’s impact in India is not limited to individuals. The industry shapes and influences the entire society. Nevertheless, with the passage of time and changes in the political environment, the control and power of state and national governments have increased significantly in the industry.
Today, the political climate has affected the creation of movies and enhanced political involvement in the film industry.
This article dives into how cultural ideology and political pressure are pressing the film industry. How is religious propaganda propagated through Bollywood? And how do local and global politics affect movie productions and corporate structures?
The Boycott Campaign – Killing Freedom of Expression
Not the fierce competition from streaming platforms but the ongoing boycott trend of movies has been a major concern for Indian filmmakers.
Artists and fans believe these campaigns are a part of a bigger effort to stifle artistic Freedom of expression. The social media trends like #BoycottBollywood #BoycottIndiancinema are trending high on major social media platforms.
The call for a boycott started and was linked to an interview by a famous Muslim actor. The actor expresses this feeling by narrating that he and his then-wife Kiran Rao would leave India due to “increasing intolerance” and the absence of action from the Bharatiya Janata Party government.
Since then, a group of the community has started boycotting films performed by Muslim actors. The collaborative group comes on social media platforms and starts trolling the movies acted by Muslim actors.
However, the Muslim Actor’s statement of feeling insecure and “increasing intolerance” was made after the Hindu mob lynched a 50-year-old Muslim man. The man was a butcher and was found storing cow meat inside his house. Since cows are considered sacred animals in India and are frequently revered by Hindus, this didn’t sit well with Indian netizens.
But the sincerity of Hindi cinema and courageous storytellers to show the true dark side of polarized religious extremists is not bearable for some groups.
No Space for Showcasing Reality in Bollywood
In India today, some old customs like girls cannot take part in significant sports events, the practice of dowry, the inequality in the share of the property for a girl child, and many more are still in practice even though time has changed drastically.
Some religious customs lead to prejudice against people based on gender, color, and other factors. Indian society has a severe problem with this, and during the past few years, numerous Bollywood movies like Oh My God, My name is Khan, P.K., and more have addressed the problem.
But as one could imagine, plenty of these movies were the target of nationwide demonstrations and intense pressure from political and religious organizations.
Color Politics – The Saffron Controversy in Bollywood
Communist and political activists are now targeting and trapping the film industry from every side. Absurd political activists are dividing Indian culture and religion with color politics using Bollywood songs performed by the Muslim actor Shah Rukh Khan.
The activists of BJP(Bhartiya Janta Party) and other communists called for a boycott of Shah Rukh Khan’s film Pathan for insulting ‘Sanatan Sanskriti.’
The protest against the film Pathan was so high that communist and antisocial elementary people burnt the statue of Shah Rukh Khan. They appealed and demanded that the state and central government ban the movie.
The reason to boycott Pathan is a song that narrates ‘Besharam Rang.’ In a section of the song, actress Padukone is seen wearing orange swimwear, and Khan is wearing a green shirt. Some people mistook the hue orange for saffron, connected to the BJP, the country’s dominant Hindu nationalist party. Islam has always been associated with the color green. Historically, there have been many conflicts between the two religions in India regarding the same issue.
BJP leaders and various communists consider such acts as vulgarity with the color saffron and consider it as an insult to Hindu communists and Sanatan Sanskriti.
There have been suggestions to have the song removed from the Pathaan movie due to the uproar. An advocate has even submitted a written complaint for the same to the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. BJP activities have forcefully taken off the theatres and auditoriums with posters of Pathan movies, and theatres are warned not to release Pathan movies in some states.
However, after its release, the film gathered to love and support from the audience. Some even claimed it was a patriotic movie showcasing the zest of secret agents for the country.
Diving People on Polarising Topics
Such an antisocial act of ideology is dividing people of the country through color politics. Bollywood movies shape and influence the youth of the country, and such acts of discrimination divide the youth drastically.
Saffron for Hindu, Green for Muslim, and White and Red for Christians are embedded among the youth through antisocial activities. In a democratic country like India, everybody has Freedom of speech and Freedom of expression. Still, due to racist ideology and wrong beliefs, the act of color politics compromises human rights.
However, color politics is not new for India; it has happened in the past too, but this time it has reached unprecedented levels. Some have referred to it as a political agenda and a means of deflecting focus away from more important matters.
The Effect on Movie Production & Bollywood
The effect of acts like boycotting Bollywood and color politics in Pathan movies has forced the filmmaker to make necessary changes. Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) of India has advised Yash raj films to edit the song besharam rang and make adjustments.
On the other hand, the modifications and edits in movies encourage the activist more to commit antisocial behaviors in the future. Such central board recommendations feed the anti-socialist attitude that leads to these pointless deeds.
To believe some news from TV media, CBFC will introduce a new act for the certification of Bollywood films in India. The film will undergo the inspection of CBFC first and then be forwarded to the high court for more inspection. After the approval of the high court, the movie will be forwarded for release.
The new rule is introduced to control and protect the religion and cultural sentiments influenced by some movies. However, such political and governmental meddling will only undermine the films’ fundamentals, and it will never reveal the dark aspects of Indian society and culture.
Interestingly, many famous Bollywood actors like Amitabh Bachchan have shown concern over the viewer’s transformed ideology. But concerns were not highlighted by the media or censored.
Pro-Khalistan Activist Amritpal Singh declared fugitive- What is happening in “India’s Bread Basket” Punjab?
Internet services were suspended across the state of Punjab on Saturday and are still suspended as of now on Sunday, officials confirmed. According to press sources, Amritpal Singh, the leader of Waris Punjab De and a supporter of the Khalistani movement, has been the target of Punjab Police operation.
The Department of Home Affairs and Justice, Government of Punjab, stated that all mobile internet services, all SMS services (aside from banking & mobile recharge), and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, aside from voice calls, shall be suspended. The Punjab Police today conducted a large crackdown on “Waris Punjab De,” detaining 78 activists in the Jalandhar area in response to criticism regarding the allegedly worsening peace and order situation in the state. Amritpal Singh, a pro-Khalistan activist, evaded capture despite a significant police presence in the Jalandhar neighborhood of Shahkot. The police asserted that they had taken 373 ammunition, a revolver, seven 12-bore rifles, and one 315-bore rifle from the demonstrators.
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Is Amritpal Singh still on the run?
The radical preacher Amritpal Singh is still on the run, according to the Punjab Police, who also stated that a big search operation has begun to apprehend the leader of the Waris Punjab De organization.
The statement followed earlier today’s media reports that stated Singh and a number of his allies had been detained by the Punjab Police.
According to a statement from Punjab Police, the state has begun extensive Cordon and Search operations against Waris Punjab De members.
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What led to the Crackdown?
On Thursday, in an anomalous course of events, a group of men armed with swords and guns stormed a police station in Ajnala, on the outskirts of Amritsar, demanding the release of Lovepreet Singh, also known by his alias “Toofan,”.Singh was being held on kidnapping charges and assault on a Chamkaur Sahib-based resident Varinder Singh. Lovepreet Singh alias Toofan, who is a close associate of “Waris Punjab De” leader Amritpal Singh, had turned to activism during the farm agitation at the Delhi border. Lovepreet Singh, a Sikh preacher, and modest farmer has long advocated for Sikh causes.
Amritpal Singh, 30, who has gained notoriety in Punjab over the past six to seven months as a Sikh preacher and infamous sympathizer for Khalistan, was at the epicenter of these events. He claims to be a devoted follower of Bhindranwale, a militant leader who supported Khalistan and was assassinated in the infamous operation Blue Star on June 6, 1984.
Lovepreet Singh was released from jail the following day, but this entire incident has raised numerous issues with Punjabi politics, government, and law and order.
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Who is Amritpal Singh?
Born in 1993, Amritpal Singh Sandhu hails from Jallupur Khera village in Baba Bakala tehsil of Amritsar district. He is said to have studied up to the plus two levels before he left for Dubai for work in 2012. Singh, a 29-year-old Dubai-returned Sikh who recently moved to Punjab, has abruptly entered the religiopolitical scene after taking control of Waris Punjab De, an organization that actor-activist Deep Sidhu founded before his supposed accident caused death in February 2022.
“We (Sikhs) have become a community of slaves” – this is a message Amritpal Singh, the head of Waris Punjab De, is heard proclaiming in most of his speeches.
His surrounding social media activity suggests that he had been advocating for Sikh causes for at least the previous five years or so. He joined the anti-farm law demonstrations, notably the Deep Sidhu-related faction of the movement. According to Deep Sidhu’s statements at the Shambhu Border, his branch of the movement was distinct from the farm unions since he advocated for a more comprehensive political and social reform of Punjab rather than just the repeal of agricultural regulations. He believed that the movement should’ve been carried forward even after the repelling of the controversial farm laws.
According to Quint, apparently, Amritpal never met Deep Sidhu and the two interacted only through social media.
However, the ministry of home affairs is reported to have told the Punjab government to keep a watch on his activities. Captain Amarinder Singh has asked the government to take action against him and a Shiv Sena faction wants him booked under UAPA. His Twitter account was withheld in India on 7 October 2022, reports The Quint.
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What does the Socio-Political scene in Punjab look like?
There have been a number of political responses to this, with the Shiromani Akali Dal-Amritsar denouncing the crackdown while the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress supported it. Following the announcement of the crackdown on Singh, a number of political figures from various parties have pleaded for peace in Punjab. However, the general public’s perception of him is sharply divided, with supporters applauding his efforts to resuscitate Sikhi and his anti-drug campaign in addition to the enormous crowds at his events. Critics, on the other hand, charge him of usurpation and with attempting to destabilize Punjab.
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Anxieties over the rise of a potential militancy in Punjab?
The Khalistan movement, which was previously seen as more of a foreign diaspora concern, is currently making news in India due to farmer protests, but the subject is becoming more prominent due to the recent series of events and the emergence of Amritpal Singh as a pro-Khalistan leader. Anxieties are being risen along the lines of this crisis turning into a potential threat of militancy in Punjab.
Harjeshwar Pal Singh, an assistant professor of History based in Chandigarh thinks that it will not lead to a rise in militancy because there has been strong criticism within the community against the ways adopted by Amritpal Singh.
Author of Panjab: Journeys through fault line, Amandeep Sandhu enunciates the larger problems which have been plaguing the state and which might have come into the forefront with such issues. The rise of someone like Amritpal Singh, in Sandhu’s opinion, is evidence that numerous governments have historically failed to address various issues at their root.
While the state has been apparently working to put Punjab’s violent history of bloodshed and militancy behind it, these images have brought back memories of those times. Anxieties are being risen along the lines of this crisis turning into a potential threat of militancy in Punjab.
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Khalistan Movement – India’s Unity Under Threat (A Brewing Civil War)
A force capable of breaking India into a civil war and driving a second
partition is simmering in Punjab. After losing popularity in one of the
most brutal times in Indian history, the Khalistan movement is rising once
again. With a new face but the same old demands, a separate Sikh nation.
Under Amritpal Singh Sandhu, the self-styled Chief of Khalistanis, the
movement is un-stabilizing the political landscape. And with a comparatively
weak government head of state, the future seems more brim.
But what is the Khalistan movement? Who is Amritpal Singh Sandhu? Why
should the central government be worried about the uprising? And what does it
mean for Punjab and India?
Here’s a detailed explainer:
Understanding the Khalistan
The Khalistan movement is a separatist movement that aims to establish a sovereign state for the Sikhs named Khalistan. This nation should include Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and a few districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The movement first emerged ten years into independent India in 1960. Jagjit
Singh Chohan, the former Finance Minister of Punjab, demanded a separate Khalistan, which gave rise to the movement in the 1970s and reached its peak in the 1980s under Indira Gandhi’s government.
While Jagjit Singh created a Sikh extremist government in Pakistan and
collected millions of dollars from the US to form Khalistan; in India, the
reins of the movement were in Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale‘s hands.
Financed by Jagjit and supported by Pak ISI, Bhindranwale’s popularity
skyrocketed in Punjab. Under his leadership, the Khalistan movement grew, with
thousands of extremist Sikhs joining. He urged his followers to restore the Khalsa
(Orthodox Sikh religion) in Sikh society. His protests targeted Hindus and the ‘modernized
“He (Bhindranwale) used offensive language against Hindus. He exhorted every Sikh to kill 32 Hindus to solve the Hindu-Sikh problem”
These were very violent times in Punjab, but all this was coming to an end with Operation Blue Star in 1984. While in a hideout in the Golden Temple, Bhindranwale’s followers continued bombing across Punjab. However, in operation, the Khalistan
the leader was assassinated and took control of the temple.
According to official statements, about 500 militants and civilians died in
the attack, but independent organizations estimate over 3000 deaths. Four months
later, on 31st October 1984, Prime Minister Indra Gandhi was
murdered by her two Sikh bodyguards, which gave rise to anti-Sikh riots. This resulted in the deaths of 8000 Sikhs.
Resurfacing Khalistan Movement
The anti-Sikh riot rooted a hatred amongst Sikhs for the Indian government
and made Bhindranwale a freedom fighter. Post the attack, numerous incidents, including the attack on an Air India Plan that left over 300 dead, followed.
While the Indian government stabilized the situation in the country’s popular
Kahlistani militants started operating from the US, UK, and Canada. The group
even used the latest farmer’s protest to increase militancy in Punjab.
So Bhindranwale died, but the Khalistan movement survived, and now they have a new leader – Amritpal Singh Sandhu.
Who is Amritpal & How He Became the Leader of the Khalistan Movement?
Born in 1933, Amritpal Singh Sandhu was a normal man living in Dubai. But the
name, unfamiliar just a few months back, has now become a popular leader in
Named Bhindranwale 2.0, Deep Sidhu became a controversial figure during the
2020 farmer’s protest after starting the ‘Waris Punjab De’, a social
organization. After his death, Amritpal took the leading position in the
Before joining the organization two years back, Sandhu didn’t even wear a
turban. But soon after joining, he underwent a remarkable transformation,
rising to a position of influence and power in the Kahlistani movement.
Amritpal took his anointment in the native village of Bhindranwale, who
serves as Sandhu’s inspiration. Since September 2022, he started dressing like
his inspiration and even began carrying a steel arrow, precisely like
Bhindranwale has done in the past.
Amirtpal claims his agenda is to bring in the religious and social transformation
to Punjab. But his group has also attacked and vandalized Gurudwaras (Sikh
temples). Similar to Bhindranwale, Sandhu delivers ferocious speeches in an
effort to pique the interest of Punjab’s youth.
He urges them to give up narcotics and get involved in the effort to
resurrect the “panth” and rid it of its “slavery” mentality. He openly criticises other religions and supports “sampuran raj” in place of “Waziri,” or slavery, in a manner
reminiscent of Bhindranwale.
For his controversial remarks, most recently directed at Union Home Minister
Amit Shah, he said, “his fate will be similar to that of former prime minister
All this soon bubbled up to the Anjala police station attack.
The Anjala Police Station Attack
“If the fire lodged against me isn’t scrapped within one hour, the administration
of Punjab should be held responsible for the consequences”
Six months back, the Punjab police arrested Lavpreet Singh, a leading member
of the Waris Punjab De organization. Protesting against the arrest and the FIR on Amripal, the supporter of Sandhu surrounded the police station in massive numbers on 23rd February.
To impede the aggressive demonstrators – armed with swords – police
barricaded the area with additional forces brought in from five districts. In
now-viral videos of the violent protests, a huge number of Khalistanis were
seen breaking barricades and attacking the police with swords.
Some reports claim that the mob even took control of the police as the
forces were left overwhelmed by the crowd.
Where is India Going Wrong?
Much like during the Bhindranwale uprising, there’s a pungent political
complicity and opportunism in Punjab. In 1980, the ruling Congress Party and Akali Dal supported the movement in its early stages. That’s why Bhindranwale was not arrested based on myopic political reasoning, which led to violent protests and thousands, including Indra Gandhi’s dead.
History is repeating itself again.
The current AAP government won the state election with the support of
Kahlistani sympathizers. Unfortunately, despite seeing the spiking unrest
caused by the movement, the government is reluctant to intervene firmly, as
seen in the Anjala police station attack.
An annual police meeting held of January 2023 claimed that after 2015, the
attempt to revive militancy in Punjab in on the rise. Just like in 1980s and
90s, the Khalistanis are re-engaging with local criminals group to promote
Numerous reporters are proving that the current Khalistan uprising is fueled
by foreign and local actors. Targeting mostly youth, vulnerable Sikh into their
devious plans the organization is actively running misinformation campaigns on
social media against Indian establishments to dispel any disconnect between the
larger Sikh diaspora and the Indian government.
The Threat to India’s Unity
Instances of politics powered by religion are not uncommon in India. And
while some issues must be addressed within the bounds of the law and democratic
politics, but accepting it and legitimizing Hindu majority politics, as
represented by the demand for Hindu Rashtra is a whole other story.
The most obvious risk of religious politics, as seen in the Khalistan
movement, can also provoke other religious extremist communities to protest.
Once, Amritpal questioned why no legal action was taken against communities
calling for a Hindu Rashtra.
India’s civilizational unity is based on the diversity of different
religions and ethnicities. That’s why attempts to forcefully homogenize are
extremely dangerous for the nation.
Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Meghalaya are Christian-majority
states. Jammu & Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state. Similarly, Punjab is a
Figures like Amritpal try to ignite religious nationalism by infusing
competitive religious supremacism amongst the extremists. Sikhs have long lived
happily with different religions in India, but now harmony is under threat. And
nobody – the government, Punjab, and India – want to relive even a section of
the nightmare of the 1980s.
India: Violence Against Women on Holi Reeks of Communal and Racial Tensions
violence against women during Holi reek of not just communal but recently racial tensions.
Holi is a Hindu festival of colors and is celebrated across India with great enthusiasm. Numerous cases of violence, molestation, and harassment of women and minorities during March 7 and 8 when Holi was celebrated in various parts of the country came to light on social media. While “Bura na mano Holi Hai” (Don’t feel bad, it’s Holi) is used to justify all such nefarious behaviors, where women are most frequently the target, the celebration of Holi in India is frequently tarnished by incidences of molestation and harassment. However, in recent years, the festival has been marred by incidents of violence, particularly against women belonging to minority and marginalized communities.
This year, violence against women during the festivities of Holi emerged in the news of the incident met out to a Japanese woman. However, this was not the only incident of violence against women that took place at the festival of Holi. Other incidents with rather less to no reportage were the attacks to Muslim women and those belonging to marginalized communities. Over the years incidents of violence against women during Holi reek of not just communal but recently racial tensions.
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‘I Was Terrified’: Japanese Woman Tweets After Being Assaulted During Holi
Recently, a video of a group of Indian men assaulting a Japanese woman in Delhi during the Holi celebrations went viral online. The woman responded to the incident on Twitter, calling it “unfortunate” and clarifying that her purpose was not to “defame the festival.” In a series of tweets roughly translated from Japanese, the woman wrote, “I had heard that it was very dangerous for a woman to go out alone during the daytime at the Holi festival, an Indian festival that I participated in, so I participated in the event with a total of 35 other friends. Unfortunately, this kind of situation happened…”
In the video, the men are seen smearing color on a Japanese woman and groping her. One of them even smashes an egg on her head. Before she manages to step away, the woman slaps one of the men who tried to grab her.
The foreign national who had tweeted the video on Thursday quickly deleted it. She claimed she “deleted the tweet” because she “was terrified” by the responses to the video. She posted in Japanese, “On March 9, I tweeted a video of Holi, but after that, the number of RTs and DMs surged more than I had anticipated, and I was afraid, so I deleted the tweet. She continued by saying that she had no intention of “conveying the abnormalities and damages of the Holi festival in India.”
In response to the footage, the police detained three people, among them a minor, in connection with the event. The police have pledged to intensify their investigation, and the woman expressed hope that harassment of women would considerably diminish.
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The Under-reported Crimes- Minor Muslim Girls Raped in Bihar during Holi
This Holi, two minor girls were raped by 2 men including the son of an ex-sarpanch in the Begusarai district of Bihar. Once news broke that two girls, aged 6 and 7, had reportedly been sexually assaulted by the son of a previous Sarpanch while others were playing Holi, the Begusarai district of Bihar was anxious. The girls are from a different community than the accused, who is a Hindu, according to the press statement. The accused Rajkumar alias Chhotu Mahato and his companion approached the minors as they were playing in a school near Panchdir Chowk, according to Begusarai police. The accused had both been drinking. After they raped the two minors, they fled the scene.
Also, read How Practical is the Secular Democracy of India? Curbing of Religious Freedom in Kashmir
Other Incidents of Violence against Women and Minorities
In a separate incident, a 65-year-old woman in the eastern state of Jharkhand was beaten to death by a group of six people for allegedly stopping them from applying colors to her son. The incident happened during Holi when the woman, who has been identified as Bucchi Devi, got into a fight with the group and forbade them from painting her kid Murari with colors. According to the local police, the group beat the woman and her son until they both passed out. Murari woke up to see his mother laying dead, according to accounts.
In another incident, a video was circulated on social media showing a lone Sikh man being attacked during the festivities of Holi. The disturbing visuals showed him being beaten and his turban being torn off.
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History of Violence Against Women during Holi Festivities
In some parts of India, Holi has been used as a pretext to attack Muslim communities. In 2018, a video surfaced on social media showing a group of men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district, throwing color and attacking Muslim women, while chanting religious slogans. The violence is not limited to physical assault but also includes sexual harassment and molestation.
The incidents of violence against women during Holi are a reflection of the larger problem of violence against women in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2019, there were 4,05,861 cases of crimes against women reported in India. These included rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and dowry-related violence.
The government has taken several measures to address the issue of violence against women, including setting up fast-track courts to hear cases of sexual assault and harassment. The government has also launched a national helpline for women in distress. However, these measures have not been enough to curb the violence against women, particularly during festivals like Holi. It is important for the government and civil society to work together to address the underlying social and cultural attitudes that perpetuate violence against women.
The festival of Holi, traditionally a celebration of spring and love, has unfortunately become a time when women are targeted for sexual harassment and assault. The Indian government has taken steps to address violence against women, including the introduction of stricter laws and the establishment of special courts to handle cases of sexual violence. However, implementation and enforcement of these measures remain a challenge, and cultural attitudes toward gender and religion continue to perpetuate violence against women.
The nature of this violence is deeply concerning and highlights the intersectional discrimination faced by Muslim women in India. Not only are they vulnerable to gender-based violence, but they also face religious and communal hostility, which can exacerbate their situation. It is important to acknowledge and condemn all forms of violence against women, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Muslim women, in particular, considering their unacknowledged minority status deserve to live in a society where they can freely practice their religion and move out of their homes without fear of harassment or discrimination.
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