Netflix has released a trailer for Mission Majnu, an action-spy movie starring Sidharth Malhotra and Rashmika Mandanna. Prior to being purchased by Netflix, Mission Majnu was planned as a theatrical release. It appears to be the latest in a recent influx of nationalist Indian films, where Pakistan is always portrayed as the enemy. Pakistan has condemned the teaser for painting Pakistan as a villain and drawing false stereotypes about Pakistanis.
The plot centres on the same old, tired trope of a valiant Indian army stopping Pakistan’s “illegal” actions. The film makes an effort to present a positive image of the failed RAW mission, “Operation Kahuta.” It takes a nuclear physicist to know how absurd it sounds for a RAW agent to be dispatched to Pakistan to “neutralise” its nuclear weapons, as is implied in the Netflix trailer.
The trailer ends with the catchphrase “Long live India,” which is a gesture to any viewers who may have ever questioned the patriotic undertones of the propaganda movie. But that’s not all; the trailer also offers a poor representation of Pakistani culture by featuring Pakistanis saying “aadab,” donning prayer caps, sporting black eye kohl, and wearing taweez around their necks. The movie appears to be a great comedy, if anything.
Films misused to incite hated against Muslims
Mission Majnu, directed by Shantanu Bagchi, is one of a number of films of a similar nature that are characterised by sentiments derived from the Hindutva ideology of the BJP. Similar themes were at the centre of movies like Rashtra Kavach Om, Code Name: Tiranga, and the Telugu historical action movie RRR. All of these films have images and symbolism that seem to stir up religious feelings. The movie Kashmir Files, which was also released in 2022, received strong backing from the BJP and was banned in many states, including Singapore, for inciting hatred toward Muslims.
Young people are particularly susceptible to propaganda, disinformation, and fake news since information and communication technology have become such a significant part of their lives today. This very tactic is being used by the BJP to influence young people’s views. The Hindutva ideology and the propaganda movies from India bring to mind Nazi Germany, which exploited all available means to spread anti-Semitism. The latest anti-Muslim films from Pakistan are analogous to Leni Reifenstahl’s films against the Nazis, including Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces and Triumph of the Will, among many more.
The Indian media is trying to not only justify but also uphold and promote the blatantly extremist Hindu BJP policies in India and Indian-occupied Kashmir. India has long since lost the secular reputation that it had managed to uphold in the past. The radicalised policies of the BJP government are contributing to a rise of intolerance in Indian society. A rapid descent into the depths of radicalization, fanaticism, extremism, intolerance, and prejudice appears to have begun in India, which is also being portrayed in Indian films.
In such a state of affairs, it is imperative that Pakistan respond firmly and convey its own account to the world. This is only conceivable when the Pakistani media sector, specifically the film industry, begins focusing on these concerns and rejecting the same old, worn-out storylines.