Afwaah (2023)

Using Afwaah, director Sudhir Mishra gaslights Love Jihad victims and declares their experiences fake. He attempts to wipe out their nightmarish experiences by claiming that the atrocities on their gender, identity and faith were just an imaginary gossip made up by Hindu men who can’t win the affections of their spouses. 

Mishra ignores the increase in Muslim men trapping Hindu women in relationships for conversion, often using deception (which prompted several states to bring out anti-forced conversion laws commonly referred to as Love Jihad laws). In the film, he even goes on to message that Hindu women are much safer with Muslim men than men of their community. The portrayals of these two communities are very black-and-white in Afwaah

Maybe he should attempt saying this to the family of Shraddha Madaan, who was chopped up into pieces by her live-in partner Aaftab Ameen Poonawalla last year. Or to the family of Kiran Devi, who was raped and smashed to death by Sikander Ahmed in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur district the previous month. Does he find imaginary the fate of Nikita Tomar, a 20-year-old college student shot dead by Tausif Ahmed for turning down his nikah proposal? After her death, Nikita’s family put up a banner outside their house that said, “Shot dead by Tousif in broad daylight for refusing to convert and marry him.”


The film’s plot is a weak constructive to push spurious claims that Bollywood has been promoting forever. Nivedita ‘Nivi’ Singh (Bhoomi Pednekar) is the daughter of a powerful political leader and is engaged to his mentee – a feudal lord named Vikram ‘Vicky’ Singh (Sumit Vyaas), who doesn’t think twice before battering her. After seeing videos of Muslim men getting killed in a communal riot ostensibly set off by Vicky’s tilakdhaari men, she runs away from the house after realizing that her father is also on board this plan. She is sick of all the Hindu men in her home.

During the chase, she meets Rahab Ahmed (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a returning expatriate. He is married to a Hindu woman and author. Unlike Vicky, Rahab is a perfect gentleman, a good Samaritan, a supportive husband and a loving son. He doesn’t even think twice before risking his life for Nivi.

Following Nivi’s disappearance, Vicky tries to save his reputation and political career by starting a social media campaign accusing Rahab of luring her into Love Jihad. Some locals identify the “couple”, but Nivi lectures them on how they are so foolish that they believe in Love Jihad.

The rest of the film’s story is about how Rahab and Nivi escape Vicky.

Good Muslims tormented by Bad Hindus

As mentioned, Mishra provides a very black-and-white portrayal of the two communities in the film. Every Muslim character (Rahab, his father, Sharif, and other locals fleeing the village) is a poverty-ridden victim of circumstances who is kind and trusting. Meanwhile, all Hindu men (Chandan, Vicky, Sandeep) are evil men who will do anything to feel powerful. 

Even Hindu women haven’t been spared of this ugly portrayal in Afwaah. Riya Rathod (TJ Bhanu) is a cop who reports to Inspector Sandeep Tomar. Her mother encourages her to sleep with him (a married man) to “stay on his good side” and live a better life than she had with Riya’s father. The dialogues are despicable. 

Tomar se banaaye rakh. Paise bhi aate rahenge. Tu usi ko bol, dhoondhega tere liye koi c***iya jisse byaah kar lena. Parivaar uske saath basaana, kharcha woh (Tomar) chalaega.

Translation: Continue pleasing Tomar so that the money keeps coming. Also, tell him to find a stupid groom for you. One will raise a family with you, and the other will foot your bills.

Afwaah is an absolute filth of a film. 

Ironically, the director is the grandson of conservative Congress leader and two-time MP CM Dwarka Prasad Mishra, who had penned Krishnayana, a maha kavya on Lord Krishna in Awadhi language. 


Mishra’s feelings for the Hindu community can be more accurately described as sneering hatred than a phobia. He is not phobic.

He is one of those presuming filmmakers who attribute every problem in India to Sanatan Dharma and turn their faces away from the religious atrocities committed on agency-denied Hindus. Like every Bollywood filmmaker, he seeks validation from the clique that incentivizes people who push a conversion-friendly narrative targeting Hinduism. 

He probably doesn’t realize that the narratives he pushes in Afwaah don’t work anymore for Bollywood. People are sick and tired of seeing their faith mocked on screen. Altogether rejecting the Hindu perspective and pandering to the ugly anti-Hindu portrayals is why films like ‘The Kashmir Files’ and ‘The Kerala Story’ have done unbelievably well at the box office with just word-of-mouth publicity.

But we don’t expect people like Mishra to accept this reality. He is part of the group that continues to marinate in its radioactive agendas and delusions. Not surprisingly, all the left-leaning media houses have given good ratings to this film. Such validations indicate whether or not you must waste your time watching it.

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I watch how Bollywood engages with and represents Hindu society. A non-Marxist film critic writing in English.

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