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72 Hoorain: A Blind Eye to Social Responsibility.

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Following in the footsteps of ‘The Kashmir Files’ and ‘The Kerala Story’, ’72 Hoorain’ is yet another movie that has people divided. This Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan movie is set to hit the big screens on July 7, 2023 depicts the repercussions of religious extremism and shows terrorists like Bin Laden, Ajmal Kasab, Yakub Memon, Sadiq Saeed, Hafiz Saeed, and Masood Azhar.

The teaser for ‘72 Hoorain’ saw a massive backlash for its “Islamophobia” and for “reinstating dangerous stereotypes” about Muslims. The film was also ridiculed for its lack of research as the movie claims The World Trade Centre attack occurred in 2011 but the tragedy was from 2001.

The director of the film said, “These people inject poison in their minds and make common people suicide bombers. We must remember that the attackers are from families like ours who are victims of perverted beliefs and brainwashing by terrorist leaders and lead them on the path of destruction.”

In an attempt to describe what the movie encapsulates, Mr. Sanjay said that the movie is a “tragic reminder of the power of manipulation” and the “urgent need to address the root causes of terrorism,”.

With all its flaws, this movie brings a bigger debate over freedom of expression and social responsibility to the table. During PM Modi’s recent US state visit, former US President Barack Obama raised his concerns about the rights of ethnic minorities in India, he said “protection of the Muslim minority in a majority-Hindu India” was worth a mention.

72 Hoorain is being perceived as another sad attempt at deepening the divide between the communities, arousing hatred against the minority Muslims, strengthening the existing stereotypes, hurting the religious sentiments and concerns with the context not being accurate to the cultural context of India.

On the Contrary, a recent Kannada movie adaptation of ‘Daredevil Mustafa’ by Poorna Chandra Tejaswi, plays out the real-life struggles and discrimination the minority goes through in our society every day. The confrontations and the abuse they undergo to make their way into being accepted in our society.

The movie also makes an attempt at understanding the insecurities and distrust of the majority community and the impact – exposure, awareness and education plays out in bonding the communities and repairing the society as a whole.

Historically, Cinema have been exploited politically, socially and economically. Propaganda movies were used as tools by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party during the WW2 to captivate public opinion and to admonish the minority. Lenin and the Bolsheviks used the same to plant a great regime, and numerous governments across the globe use cinema to shift public opinion in their favour or in public interest.

Communal Harmony has always been a sensitive subject in India and more so in the last decade. Rising divide among communities and the inefficiency of the administration to take steps in the right direction have claimed many lives and has fuelled more insecurity and distrust between the communities.

There is also a growing concern over media desensitizing real life violence, pushing political and religious propaganda, promoting ‘Bystander Apathy’, arousing false sense of danger within the society, pinning communities against each other leading to systemic intolerance, discrimination, communal violence as observed in last few years.

Cinema or television, as a tool that reaches every part of the society, have a responsibility to the society, to spread awareness, to educate and to influence minds towards tolerance, inclusivity, harmony and growth.

Individual responsibility at both ends of production and consumption offers great stability to the society. In most democracies stability of the society is weighed over individual right to expression. An honest effort at filtering content eliciting socially detrimental thoughts and ideologies would be ideal in taking a step at communal harmony and stable society.

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