Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Hindu Camera! Muslim Microphone! 1940


A Muslim As "Krishna"!
I cannot forget the words uttered by Khalil, a veteran among actors, at the Motion Picture Congress. Addressing Dad Phalke, he recalled how he, a Muslim, had been given the role of Krishna in dozens of films. In spite of the opposition from the orthodox element, Dada Phalke continued to cast a Muslim youth in the roles of Hindu gods. Art knows no barriers of caste or creed. And, looking through the pages of the history of the Indian film industry, you will come across numerous such instances. It was a Jewish producer who revived the glory of "Nur Jehan," a Hindu who dramatized the romance of the Taj Mahal in "Shiraz," a Muslim who produced "Chandra Rao More" and a Parsi who produced "Vaman Avatar". And even if some of these films were bad, I believe that they did bring the people of this vast country nearer in their understanding of one another's culture and traditions.

Not only Art but Commerce too, decrred that communalism should be kept out of the studios. Parsi and Hindu producers did not hesitate to employ Muslim artistes if they could exploit their star-value to make a few lakhs. Similarly, Muslim directors (such as there have been) and artists built their reputations with the help of their non-Muslim colleagues. There was never any question of putting communal labels on persons working in the studios. Yusuf Mulji was a good Cameraman, not a Muslim Cameraman; Syed Fatehlal was a good Art Director, not a Muslim Art Director; Nawab was a good actor, not a Muslim actor. At the same time no one worried if Chandulal Shah was a Jain; Sabita Devi a Christian; Leela Chitnis a Bene-Israelite; Ezra Mir a Jew. They all belonged to the same community - the community of artists. Their religious beliefs were a matter between them and their God.
Hindu Camera! Muslim Microphone! "

~ K Ahmad Abbas on rise of communalism in Indian Cinema for FilmIndia Magazine, February 1940.

Complete article here: 
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2 comments:

  1. Ironic that the two films he lists as examples of a bad turn are advertised on the very page the article ends, and two pages later. (I guess that's why you included those pages as part of the complete article in the first place.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. The ads for those films were indeed published in the same issue. But it was typical of that magazine. On cover they would have an eulogizing image of Mahatama Gandhi and inside you could read a bitter critique of the man. I have come to realize it was the way Baburao liked to operate. Even in 70s his magazine Mother India would have a cover eulogizing Indira Gandhi for her responses to Pakistan but inside there would be an article critiquing her.

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