Bollywood and the BJP

A biopic on a sitting prime minister, a film glorifying 2016’s surgical strikes, and movies championing Modi’s policies: Bollywood seems increasingly BJP-led.

Sharanya Deepak

May 7, 2019

Bollywood and the BJP

A trailer for Uri: Surgical Strike (2019) has over 27 million views on YouTube. The film chronicles the Indian military’s retaliation to the September 2016 Uri attacks, when four militants attacked an army base in Kashmir, killing 19 Indian soldiers. “This is the New India,” Paresh Rawal elaborates in Hindi. “It invades your homes, and kills.” Uri has earned 2.4 billion, or $34.8 million, making it the highest grossing Bollywood film of 2019.

In the last four years, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Hindu nationalism has swept India. Recently, the BJP tweeted a quote by its national president, Amit Shah, voicing support of a National Register of Citizens that would remove those who weren’t “Buddha [sic], Hindus and Sikhs” from India. Under the BJP, criticism of Hindutva policies can even result, in extreme cases, in death —  like that of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Bollywood has mirrored this fervor, both on- and off-screen. Actor Kangana Ranaut railed against Pakistan after the Pulwama attacks. The viral “Modi Selfie” pictured Bollywood insiders with Modi. An investigation exposed Bollywood actors ready to promote pro-BJP propaganda on social media for money.