Published on October 1, 2008
From to The changing roles of Muslims in film Javed Mohammed Writer-Producer Writer- firstname.lastname@example.org Muslims and Media Part 2 Changing the world one story at a time Copyright 2008
Once upon a time in a land called Hollywood, they made dreams come true.
Or depending on your point of view brought nightmares
There were heroes
And their were villains Dracula
The Villains have varied over time: Indians
Sometimes Muslim villains The Shiekh Rudolph Valentino 1921
Generally Muslims were invisible in the early days
As were Muslim heroes
But the media was still mighty influential “The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
Let’s fast forward
In the 80s & 90s films like these were the norm: Genre: Muslim Drama, Kidnapping, True Story, Betrayal, Tear Jerker, Suspense, Escape, Doctor, Spy, Hostage, Political Film used for diversity training and understanding
Not without my daughter: Tagline: “In 1984, Betty Mahmoody's husband took his wife and daughter to meet his family in Iran.” Film used for diversity training and understanding
Not without my daughter: Tagline: “He swore they would be safe.” Film used for diversity training and understanding
Not without my daughter: Tagline: “They would be free to leave.” Film used for diversity training and understanding
Not without my daughter: Tagline: “He lied.”
You won’t believe this but… This film was used for diversity training and understanding of Muslim culture
This was followed by Shoot em ups 1987
Billionaires, bombers, and belly dancers The Delta Force
Stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims quot;Arab (read Muslim) culture has been the most misunderstood and supplied with the worst stereotypesquot;: Scott J. Simon
Fast forward to Present
It’s not all bad There are positive changes taking place.
Azeem helps Robin Hood and fights the evil doers eventually saving his life. .
Courageous An Arab traveler helps a group of Scandinavian adventurers in a battle with a tribe of cannibalistic raiders.
More good stuff
Saladin and the Muslims Thoughtful, compassionate, respectful, brave and human leader.
So there is positive change taking place in Hollywood
I get the picture, what about
In Bollywood the story is similar but also different Muslims have had a small presence in Hindi film since the early days Dilip Kumar (real name Yusuf Khan) one of the top 3 actors of his time 1950s-60s
There have been many Muslim Bollywood heroines Waheeda Rahman Madhubala Mumtaz
Blockbuster director Directed by (Mehboob) and lead star a Muslim (Nargis)
To one of the greatest Indian Epic films Mughal-e-Azam: Directed by (K. Asif) and lead staring couple Muslims (Dilip Kumar and Madhubala)
Fast forward to today: Some of the lead male stars are the Khans Shah Rukh Khan Aamir Khan Salman Khan
But its not all good! The heroines are gone, the Khans are fading, and there is a strong theme of nationalism in films.
The Role of minorities has been stereotyped Gabbar Singh in Sholay
Muslim character portrayal has been either timid
Story of Indian partition: reduced to Romance and Rambo Gadar: A blockbuster where a Sikh hero rescues Muslim damsel during riots, fall in love And then goes to rescue her from evil Pakistani Muslims.
Bollywood is secular but it still has its religious motifs in every film
Every culture promotes it’s History Beliefs Heroes Values Norms Attitude
But where is the Muslim narrative? Whose telling your stories, history, values?
As I said it’s not all bad We, collectively are responsible: It starts with education Taking ownership Ends with action.
Spike Lee “I'm just trying to tell a good story and make thought- provoking, entertaining films. I just try and draw upon the great culture we have as a people, from music, novels, the streets.”
Mahatma Ghandi said
What change will you make?
Reference All images are used under “fair use” and obtained from the public domain. They are the property of the respective copyright holders. Please Note: I started to keep track of sources but it became too cumbersome.
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