In India, Bollywood films glorify nationalist fervor towards Pakistan

The lights in the cinema dimmed and the Indian national anthem played before the audience sat down to watch “Uri,” a nationalist Bollywood action film that took on new relevance to the confrontation between India and Pakistan.

Released at the start of the year, “Uri: The Surgical Strike” enjoyed huge success in Indian cinemas even before New Delhi this week carried out “preventive strikes” on Islamist camps in Pakistan, in its words an act that caused outrage. a wave of fever between two enemy brothers from South Asia.

Since Tuesday, many Indians have come back to watch a feature film dramatizing a 2016 Indian commando raid in Pakistani Kashmir in retaliation for an attack on an Indian military base in Uri, in the northern Kashmir valley, in which 19 soldiers were killed. .

These “surgical strikes” are a key element of the political communications of Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government, which is cultivating an image of assertiveness towards Pakistan. The two nuclear powers have disputed the Kashmir region for decades, with New Delhi facing a separatist insurgency it accuses of being supported by its neighbor.

On Wednesday, as India and Pakistan each claimed to have shot down a plane from another camp over the ceasefire line in Kashmir, economics student Shailaja Kumar returned emotional at seeing “Uri” for the second time.

“I couldn't stop crying during filming while following the news about the attack,” he told AFP at a cinema in New Delhi's upscale Chanakyapuri district.

“With everything going on in the country right now, this film had a big impact and I would definitely watch it again.”

'How are you?'

The cult line of the soldiers in the film, “How's the josh?”, which can be translated as “How is your fervor?”, spread like wildfire in the Indian public space. Ministers used it to address meetings, and many internet users brandished it on social networks.

The timing of the release of this Hindi film, the directorial debut of 35-year-old singer Aditya Dhar, has been very auspicious for its producers.

Given the current tensions between India and Pakistan, “the film will definitely see a renewed surge in interest and continue to dominate cinemas and possibly make more money”, believes film analyst Akshaye Rathi.

“Many viewers were angry and this film, with its extraordinary depiction of surgical strikes, was a way for many people to celebrate the bravery and bravery of soldiers,” he explained.

Watching the film, “I could feel the excitement,” said Vinod Jain, a retired banker who came with his family to see the film, which earned $50 million in less than eight weeks. from the entertainment product tax”.

Detractors criticize the nationalism that manifests itself at every turn in the action- and fight-filled feature film 2h20, which contains dialogues such as “It's time for revenge, an eye for an eye” or “C' is a new India: we will enter your house and kill you .'

But the director has no regrets. “Indians are very angry (…) I think +Uri+ reflects this anger,” he told the Bollywood Hungama website.

“The Indian people have found a voice of protest in this film which does not hesitate to call Pakistan an enemy.”

02/28/2019 09:32:37 – New Delhi (AFP) – © 2019 AFP

Garfield Woolery

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