Tara vs Bilal Is Unchecked Glorification of ‘Love Jihad’

Tara vs Bilal is an unchecked glorification of ‘Love Jihad’ and another excuse to diabolise the Hindus shamelessly. For beginners, it is unclear why the male lead in ‘Tara v/s Bilal’ is a Muslim character.

His religion has no role to play in the story, except to project men of his community as more trustworthy as husbands than a Hindu Sharma. 

But more importantly, this movie seems like director Samar Iqbal and writer Sanyukta Chawla Sheikh’s attempt to whitewash Love Jihad and the realities of inter-faith marriages in which Hindu women suffer dreadful tortures. 

All Hindu men in this film are either weak, with effeminate qualities (Jignesh Patel, Ritesh Shah) or frauds like Karan Sharma. Tara’s grandfather, too, is naive. He sells off his house to help Tara settle down in London with an unverified groom she found on a website.

Any man with the last name Khan is portrayed as a good guy who will treat women in his life lovingly, no matter how many troubles he battles secretly. These men are shown as ‘honour-bound softies’ who toe the line of Bollywood’s phoney portrayal of Pathans.

We are also not sure why the movie uses “v/s” in the title since Tara and Bilal never oppose each other on any significant issue. They are uni-dimensional characters who agree with each other over everything, including duping their trusting families for selfish and unfounded reasons.

Tara’s introduction scenes are similar to Diana Penty’s introduction in ‘Cocktail’. They even have nearly identical pink-and-white salwar kameez outfits in scenes where they realise their new husbands have conned them. 

But that isn’t the worst part of the film.

There is a scene towards the end of the film where Tara, a Kashmiri Pandit woman, and Bilal get married. Much like that controversial Tanishq ad where a Muslim family conducts a godh-bharaai ceremony for their daughter-in-law to project how progressive they are, the director shows how broad-minded the Khan family is as they gift traditional dejhoors to the bride. 

However, there is a catch. We learn that the Khan family isn’t even aware of Tara’s last name (Kaul). Bilal had told them she was an orphan. So how did they know that she would appreciate dejhoors, which are sentimental to Kashmiri Pandit brides? Also, why would any family agree to a wedding in which they don’t even know the bride’s last name or family history? It seems the whole film is about people marrying strangers without doing any background verification.

It gets worse.

Shortly after the wedding, Tara asks Bilal how he convinced his family to have a Nikaah with her when she is still a Hindu, and her last name continues to be Kaul. Her tone reeks of a sense of inferiority complex, enforced mainly by the filmmakers. 

So here is the question – why should a Hindu woman worry about her religious identity affecting the validity of her marriage to a Muslim man? Why should Tara sound so apologetic and repentant for not converting before Nikah? In what way is her identity less than Bilal’s, considering there is a scene where her roommates started referring to her as Mrs. Tara Bilal Khan? 

Bilal responds to her question, “I told them you are an orphan. You’re an orphan, aren’t you?” 

How is she an orphan if her caring grandfather and family are alive? And also, is this a suggestion that if a woman doesn’t have her parents around, she is vulnerable and available to every LJ supporter?

Above all, would the makers of this film would have had the courage to write a scene where a young woman named Sidra Khan would remorsefully ask her groom Sharma how his family let him marry her when she still hasn’t converted to his love? Or him calling her an orphan because her parents died early and her family is far away?

Bilal also assumes that Tara’s grandfather, a Kashmiri Pandit from Delhi, would live happily with the Khan family in London. Perhaps, the film’s writer should have checked with such a Kashmiri Pandit family about how they feel about such living arrangements, especially if they had survived the 1989 genocide.

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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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