Film: Bajrangi Bhaijaan
Producer: Salman Khan, Rockline Venkatesh
Director: Kabir Khan
Screenplay: Kabir Khan, Parvez Sheikh, V Vijayendra Prasad
Dialogues: Kabir Khan, Kausar Munir
Cast: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the story of a simpleton named Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi (Salman Khan), a Hanuman devotee, who embarks on a journey to take a mute six-year-old Pakistani girl Munni, separated in India from her mother, back to her hometown.
Writer-Director Kabir Khan plants subtle sub-plots throughout the film portraying Hindus as bigots. Pawan’s father is an RSS Shakha Pramukh who calls his son ‘zero’ for being dull-witted. But like his father, Pawan also squirms at anything to do with Muslims till his lady love Rasika (Kareena Kapoor Khan) reminds him that he isn’t like other Hindus – be it his father or her father.
After Pawan decides to not be like their respective fathers in bigotry, he, a vegetarian, sings about vegetarian Hindus eating meat and having fun while “destroying their religion”.
The lyrics of the song, sung by Salman’s character, go like this:
Chowk Chandani, Chaudhary Dhaba
Raat Din Yahan Shor Sharaba
Aadha Hai Non-Veg
Aur Veg Hai Aadha
Spasht Kijiye Kya Hai Iraada
(At the Chaudhary dhaba in Chandi Chowk area of New Delhi, there is a lot of rush, be it day or night. Half of the menu is vegetarian while the rest is non-vegetarian. Tell them what you intend to eat)
Chahiye Naan Ya Roti
Chahiye Raan Ya Boti
Manga lo Ram Kasam Kasht Ho Jaaye
Thodi Biryani Bukhari
Thodi Phir Nalli Nihari
Le Aao Aaj Dharam Bhrasht Ho Jaaye
(Order whatever you want, be it naan or chapati, or different dishes of mutton, but hurry up for Lord Ram’s sake. Bring the meat dishes, let my religion be destroyed)
… Laao Kofta, Laao Korma
Laao Shorba, Laao Shawarma
Saare Upvaas Bhale Nasht Ho Jaaye
(Bring the meat dishes, even if that means the sacred Hindu fasts are broken).
Seven years after the film’s release, Kabir Khan publicly admitted that the ‘Chicken Kuk-Doo-Koo’ song was a political statement by him against “beef ban” in various states of India.
May 4, 2022
As argued by the team behind Gems of Bollywood in this piece, Kabir Khan’s confession gave away his own bigotry, given that the song makes open mockery of religious beliefs of devout vegetarians such as Hindus and Jains, and seems to be a deliberate attempt to influence impressionable children from such devout vegetarian families into eating meat.
The song shows meat-eating as an act of mutual religious respect, suggesting that communal tension between Muslims and non-Muslims, particularly the majority Hindus, will cease to exist if the latter adopts meat-eating ways of the former.
This is in line with the age-old propaganda by radicals of cheering one-way religious respect while scoffing at all ways and manners of ‘kafirs’. Can Kabir Khan or any other filmmaker show a devout namazi hero serving pork and singing ‘deen barbaad ho jaaye’ or ‘roza kharab ho jaaye’? Think.
Rasika is shown as a progressive woman who rebels against her orthodox Hindu family. Interestingly, she is never shown wearing a bindi but the woman who runs a brothel and enables child-trafficking wears a big one, complete with sindoor on her forehead.
Khan paints a much kinder picture of people across the border than he does of people in India.
For instance, commuters on a bus in Pakistan are so impressed by Pawan’s intentions that they unitedly hoodwink cops for him. A Maulana is a progressive man who does not mind Pawan’s religious views and even says “Jai Shri Ram.” While this is desirable for communal harmony, this is happening in Pakistan. Yes, totally believable.
The kindness of Pakistanis impresses Pawan so much that he starts doing salaam instead of namaste. The aura of a Pakistani masjid also smites him.
“Bhar Do Jholi Meri Ya Muhammad” used to appear in Pakistani films like Bin Badal Barsaat (1975) where the protagonist sought solace in a dargah or mosque.
It seeped to the other side of the border in no time, where Bollywood used it for comforting Hindu characters in distress. In 1978 movie Ganga ki Saugandh, a character named Kallu Chamar (Pran), tired of atrocities by a nexus of Pandit-Lala-Thakur, discovers humanity in a mosque with this song as background score.
In 2015, Pawan Chaturvedi, having already done his “dharam bhrasht” with “nalli nihari” and “biryani bukhari” in India, finds some much-needed refuge in a mosque in Pakistan with the same song playing in the background.
Not to forget that while this soulful Sufi rendition moves hearts, a song in bhakti of Hanuman – “selfie lele re” moves bums.
Can you think of any Bollywood product where a Muslim devotee seeks solace in Vaishno Devi or Ram Mandir?
Criticism and Review as per Section 52 of Indian Copyright Act, 1957. pic.twitter.com/i1NOEDXwhe— Filmy Fan (@GOBFanclub) July 30, 2021
Kabir Khan said in an interview that he wrote Bajrangi Bhaijaan in response to Bajrang Dal that had “appropriated Bajrangi [a name for Lord Hanuman] for violent sectarian motives … leading to the name Bajrangi having communal connotations.”
He claimed that his film was a way of reclaiming Bajrangi for all communities and bringing Hindus and Muslims together.
Now, that is a twisted justification for blatant Hinduphobia.
Why is there a need to secularise something so specific to Hindus?
Instead of secularising Hanuman, how about inserting scenes of Muslims doing Hanuman Chalisa and being equal participants in Hanuman bhakti? Instead, the film shows a Hanuman bhakt worshiping in a mosque.
Let’s not forget that Khan also made New York (2009), which promoted the narrative that people of a specific religion become terrorists because law enforcement agencies have ill-treated them. He also called Mughals as the “original national-builders” of India.
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