Do Pakistan War Films Ask, “How’s the Josh?”

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Do Pakistan War Films Ask, “How’s the Josh?”

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

I

happened to watch Uri: The Surgical Strike in the theatres a month after its release. There’s a scene in the film, where a little girl cries at her soldier father’s funeral that moved the audience in predictable ways. The man sitting next to me quickly wiped away a few tears and before I knew it, the hall erupted into “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. One youngster added to the proceedings by screaming “Pakistan …” (yep, exactly what you’re thinking) that was met with thunderous applause. It’s no secret that India loves to hate almost everything Pakistan (other than Coke Studio and Fawad Khan maybe). And it reflects in our greatest export of all time – Bollywood. Uri: The Surgical Strike is in fact, a perfect culmination of this sentiment.

When it comes to Pakistan, most Hindi films stick to two narratives – people on both sides of the border are kind-hearted (Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Happy Bhaag Jayegi), or that Pakistanis are the root of all evil (Indian, Sarfarosh). There is hardly any middle-line – it’’s either “dil ka achha” or “shaitaan ka bachha”. If Indians are not forcing entry into Pakistan and wreaking havoc, they are winning over the Pakistani girl – not just conquering their lands but also their women. In 2004, Shah Rukh Khan, who had finished charming the entire nation, crossed over the border with his arms wide open to charm a Pakistani girl in Veer Zaara. And in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, Sunny Deol entered Pakistan on a train, married the daughter of a Pakistani general, uprooted a Pakistani hand-pump, fought an entire Pakistani army single-handedly, and then returned home with his loot.

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