A story of how Ram became Haraam in Bollywood.
Ram was an integral part of Hindi films from the very beginning. Even when cinema moved towards social drama from Purana based films, Ram rode like a colossus in names, themes, dialogues and songs. There are countless references to Ram in spite of progressive encroachment by Urdu right from 1950s.
But as we were busy following the Superstars in Bollywood, Ram disappeared from Hindi movies, rather Urdu movies. Shah Rukh Khan’s “Ram Jaane” in 1995 and Kamal Haasan’s “Hey Ram” from 2000 were perhaps the last two major Hindi movies with Ram in the name, though both the movies had no significant role in the theme for Ram. When and how did Ram disappear from Hindi movies ?
Well, Sanjay Leela Bhansali did make “Ram Leela” in 2013. It was a derogatory movie where Ram was Romeo in reality and the whole name was even more diabolical “Golion Ki Raas Leela, Ram Leela”. Apart from this, not a single decent movie with “positive reference” to Ram has been made in the past two decades.
Hindi cinema industry progressively became Bollywood, a poor cousin of Hollywood through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Themes, stories, songs and background music were “liberally” copied by our “inspired” artists. Since both Bollywood and India’s Underworld inhabited in Mumbai, the dalliance of the Dons in the industry wasn’t uncommon. Hence we had so many films glorifying the Dons. We never realized the agenda. Yet, the Underworld never took over the industry as a whole until late 1980s. That process began from 1987-88. Congress and Shiv Sena, both have played significant roles in this process.
1984: Rajiv Gandhi came to power with a brutal majority. Congress always supported and nurtured Dons like Dawood Ibrahim of Mumbai and Abdul Lathif of Gujarat to name just two. Abdul Lathif was the real life inspiration for SRK’s “Raees”. He even contested elections with the support of Congress and won, sitting inside the jail.
1986: Dawood Ibrahim fled Mumbai to Dubai with the full knowledge of Government. Samad Khan murder case became too hot to handle for Mumbai Police, that had several D-Company loyalists. With both Congress and Shiv Sena having close links with Dawood, it wasn’t difficult for him to escape.
1987: In the aftermath of Bofors allegations, Amitabh Bachchan quit politics and returned to films. From that moment, there was a definitely well coordinated movement against Bachchan. In that era, reviews by mainstream newspapers or magazines were the main source of intellectual output on movies and art. Suddenly Bachchan movies were attracting rough reviews and the Box-office Pundits began declaring his movies as flops on the first day of release. Parallel to this, Anil Kapoor was being touted as the new Superstar. Even ordinary movies were getting rave reviews. Johnny Liver, the comedian declared Anil Kapoor as the reigning Superstar during Filmfare awards function. Subsequently, we came to know Anil Kapoor and Johnny Liver were part of D-Company family functions and were present during Dawood’s son’s wedding. It would be wrong to name just two people. It was difficult to survive in Bollywood without support from D-Company. People like Rajiv Rai, who couldn’t take the extortionist bullying quit the industry and settled in UK.
Poor Anil Kapoor’s Super-stardom was short-lived. Soon Sanjay Dutt became the blue eyed boy of D-Company and was hogging big movies. Even Subhash Ghai cast him in “Khal Naayak”.
But both Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt were just keeping the Superstar’s chair warm for the complete Islamist takeover of Bollywood. Aamir Khan in 1988, Salman Khan in 1989 and SRK in 1992; the three Khans arrived on the scene and the Underworld dropped Kapoor and Dutt. These two actors remained in the limelight but the focus of the industry was totally turned towards the Khans. In the three decades since then, Ram has almost disappeared as Bollywood became BollyDawood; one step at a time. Rather one bullet at a time.
The problem with the Indian Hindu middle-class has been blind faith. They believed in the Akbar-Birbal myth, Bapu-Chacha myth and Sarva-Dharma Samabhav myth. The journalists were always projected as honest people in movies and we believed this myth too. These journalists told us what we should watch and even what we should like. Superstars were built carefully in the decade between 1987 and 1997.
The best example was the incident related to the movie “Judwa”, released in 1997. Dawid Dhawan had started shooting for this remake of a Telugu movie with his favorite hero Govinda. One midnight, Govinda received a call from Salman Khan, informing him that the movie has been taken over by Salman and Govinda was out of it. When you cannot beat the system, join the bandwagon. Govinda soon became part of the “system” for survival.
There was one impediment to total Dawoodization though. The complete takeover of Bollywood by D-Company was stalled by Gulshan Kumar. Though he was not an Angel by any means, Gulshan Kumar popularized the Hindu Bhajans and culture. He held lion’s share in the music industry. That was difficult to uproot for the still establishing empire of evil.
1992 December saw the demolition of disputed structure in Ayodhya followed by Mumbai riots in 1993 January. Dawood Ibrahim was the main accused in the Mumbai riots and he officially became the enemy of India. But Bollywood continued to dance to his tunes and a segment of media was in cohorts with them. There were people like Subhash K Jha, who wrote mostly negative stories about Bachchan in late 1980s. Same people spread a lot of negativity about Gulshan Kumar and Anuradha Pauduval, the famous singer of that era. Articles constantly comparing her to Lata Mangeshkar and projecting her as shrill were published practically every week. Anuradha became a victim in the crossfire between Gulshan Kumar and the people who wanted to destroy him. Finally, he was eliminated in 1997, completing Dawoodization of Bollywood.
Ram became ‘Haraam’ for BollyDawood after 6 December 1992. Ram was replaced by Khuda, Maula and Allah in the years that followed. Though Hindu characters singing Khuda, Allah and Maula was not uncommon in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, total disappearance of Ram began in early 1990s and was complete and total in the new millennium.
D-Company pumped in unlimited black money into Bollywood. They also infiltrated the entire industry with Leftists and Islamists. We didn’t even notice it. Every time a Sunny Deol movie was released, some Khan movie was released on the same day and all the PR machinery worked to push the Khan movie ahead and run down Sunny Deol movie. Once Sunny Deol slipped from the top, it has been a monopoly of the Khan-dan with actors like Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan and Hritik Roshan holding on to crumbs.
In essence, be it Bachchan family or the Kapoor family, none could survive in Bollywood if they got into bad books of D-Company. When Aishwarya Rai broke off from abusive Bhai, she became close to Vivek Oberoy. Bhai not only intimidated Vivek but his big Bhai Dawood made sure Vivek’s career was finished. Aishwarya needed to survive and that’s how she married into the Bachchan family. More than the husband, it was the name of father in law that assured relative safety for Aishwarya.
The UPA years: Last days of Vajapayee government saw the emergence of a new narrative. That of the Hindu terrorist. “Main Hoon Naa”, directed by Farah Khan and released in April 2004 introduced the Hindu terrorist. What Farah Khan cooked up on celluloid in 2004, the UPA government did in real life in the subsequent years, including the Military angle.
Several movies showing Indian Army in bad light have been made by Bollywood. Many of them have won prestigious awards too. Movies like ‘Hyder’, that glorified terrorists were hailed as classics. Those like ‘Baby’, showing Indian Intelligence agents or Army conquering over terrorists were branded jingoistic. We bought all this agenda driven movie making and compromised journalism as genuine.
Everything was hunky dory for the D-Company and their extended political ecosystem till 2014. And then Narendra Modi happened. 7 years since Modi took over, Ram still remains persona non grata for Bollywood. Hindu beliefs and customs are lampooned in movies and on social media by BollyDawood. Industrial level coordinated festival-shaming of Hindu festivals too reached newer depths with every passing year. But a segment of middle-class Hindus finally woke up to the truth and began opposing this macabre dance of Hindu-hatred. That is how “growing intolerance” and “shrinking space for dissent” due to “right-wing Hindu extremism” were born. The “Internet Hindus” or the “Sanghis” or the “Bhakts” became the real life villains for the reel life heroes.
The “Bollywood Intellectuals” still hold the control over the narrative. But the numbers have deserted them. More and more people deciding to boycott their movies has hurt Bollywood. SRK hasn’t seen a hit in ages. Aamir and Salman, who had given series of blockbusters have had flops in recent past. Mahesh Bhatt ended up with a dud.
But Bollywood still runs by the dictates of D. The connections of different Dons, ISI handlers and drug-cartels run deep in the industry. Even so called Nationalist stars like Akshay Kumar aren’t above suspicion. The way the SSR case has been handled suggests the political nexus too is extremely deep rooted. There are Dawood’s men in all major political parties, including BJP. Some we know and some we don’t. But NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress can be called political arms of D-Company.
Almost two decades after BollyDawood pushed Ram out of the ‘picture’, Aamir Khan wanted to bring Krishna and “Mahabharat” on celluloid. But probably Karma isn’t willing to allow him that honor. He has shelved the project as unviable in present circumstances. He didn’t elaborate on the “circumstances”. Was it the fear of another Box-office debacle ? Or was it the D-Company that found the idea Haraam ? Anyway, a lot of awakened (not woke) people have said “Ram Ram” to the Khans of Bollywood. That is the silver lining.
With Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi offering to host a new Film city in Noida to save Hindi filmdom from the clutches of D-Company, the silver lining gets brighter. Hopefully, return of Ram to Ayodhya will coincide with his return to Bollywood too. If India has to survive the onslaught of Islamist-Marxist onslaught, we must bring Ram and Krishna back into our popular art with all the respect and reverence restored