So, what is it about Phantom, the recently released Bollywood flick that irks the likes of Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Jama’at ul dawah? No matter from which angle you look at the movie it is a dud. Don’t take my word for it; see what ‘The Hindu’ says:
“The problem lies with the writing and the lead players. Perhaps, Kabir thought of the film when a surgical strike in Pakistan was a pipe dream even in Bollywood. After Agent Vinod, D Day and Baby, we know the format. Take the audience to global hot spots of terror, eliminate some sidekicks and in the second half land in Pakistan, try to draw a line between religion and terror and then pump in the bullets. Of course the hero or his boss has to be a Muslim to balance the equations.”
Here is NDTV’s two cents on the movie:
“Actually that is precisely what Phantom is like as the whole – its flashy firepower seems like a lot of wasted ammunition.
A mechanical spy thriller that only occasionally backs up all the noise it makes with genuinely electrifying moments, it, however, pulls no punches in calling a spade a spade.”
Hafiz Saeed requested the courts in Pakistan to ban the movie on the grounds that it maligns Pakistan and also his organization. He got his wish and also garnered support on the issue from a large part of the populace.
“The film is about the 2008 Mumbai attack and global terrorism implicating the JuD. Filthy propaganda has been done in the film against Pakistan under subject of the world terrorism.”
I think what put the last nail in this controversy was Saif Ali Khan’s statement after the movie was banned. It’s no secret that Pakistani’s love to watch Bollywood movies but apparently not at the cost of national pride. When Saif berated Pakistan, he hit a nerve.
“I don’t have faith in Pakistan, generally. Neither do I understand what their thought processes are. I have no problems against Pakistan and I won’t make a film that’s against the country. But now they have banned the film. We have always shared a very complicated relationship. If you tell uncomfortable truths, films gets banned. We keep banning each other’s films.”
Then there was Faisal Qureshi’s reaction/rant on the subject, as a response to Saif Ali Khan’s comments. In his approximately 12 minutes long video message, Faisal is all over the place with footages of Saif as a playful (drunk?) transvestite (?) to Narendar Modi’s implication in Gujrat riots.
Why so Much Fuss?
Dozens of movies have come out of Hollywood implicating Pakistanis in terror plots but there has never been any hue and cry. What’s different with Phantom? For one, it came out of India. The other thing that may have fuelled strong sentiments is the fact that patriotism seems to be at an all time high these days. The celebrations of Independence Day and then on Defense Day were phenomenal and such jubilation and patriotism was seen after a long time. So, it seems that the movie was released, perhaps at an inopportune time. Otherwise, Pakistanis are not shy about expressing their fondness for Bollywood flicks. If you see the comments of ordinary Pakistanis on this controversy, you get the idea why there is so much fuss.
“Same childish tactics by Indian propagandists…How many Hafiz Saeeds will they dream to kill??? Instead of expressing their obsession and Pakistan centric antagonism they should focus on improving bilateral ties with Pakistan.” Dawn
“India will continue to mess with Pakistan and one day will learn a hard lesson. Pakistan MUST ban all Indian films in Pakistan including Indian TV programs.” Dawn
“Finally, a good move by LHC !! pleased to know this!! propaganda movies against Pakistan must be banned !! (Y)” Dawn
“Bollywood should also film Samjhauta Express tragedy and perpetrators be unearthed and punished for the sake of humanity.” Dawn
We’ve Gotta Walk the Walk
I think all these emotions are fine but if we really want to make ourselves heard and noticed by Bollywood in particular and by India in general, we will have to walk the walk because talk is, you know, cheap. During the past 30 or so years, Pakistanis have welcomed Indian movies with open arms and [like it or not] helped Bollywood flourish with their money. So, if you want to make them feel the pain, hit where it hearts, on their pockets.