Thank God (2022)

Thank God is a blatantly Hinduphobic film that puts together several jibes against the faith in its two-hour running time.

In the pretext of humour, it gives a sermon to just Sanatan Dharma followers on how they should pray, follow their rituals, celebrate festivals, treat their women and conduct themselves in general.

Did the country’s majority not have enough of it already, with Oh My God! and that Pakistani propaganda called pk?

In Thank God, Sidharth Malhotra plays Ayaan, a morally unscrupulous realtor, who will go to any lengths to make things work his way. He could be loosely described as the modern version of the ‘Hindu baniya’ caricature that Pakistani films have been showing for years to mock India.

Ayaan has a post-death experience, in which ‘CG’ (a modern-day Chitragupta, played by Ajay Devgn) makes him revisit his good and bad deeds to decide whether he should be sent to hell or back to earth.

Among Ayaan’s “sins”, CG recounts how the realtor spent money feeding laddoos to Hanumanji instead of using that money to feed beggars outside the temple.

“Even Hanumanji doesn’t like how you pour water, stick coins and smear vermillion on him. Enough,” CG lectures the Hindu audience, and adds, “To please stones, you murdered flowers.”

Watch the scene below:

This scene essentially conveys the message that temples are corrupt, vitiated places where stones (murtis of Hindu deities) are given preference over real human beings out of superstition and which are patronised by the worst of the human beings. Well, the Islamist view of the beliefs of Hindus, Jains and Buddhists and their temples is exactly this – that they are the worst of sinners (kafir) and their temples are the sites of Satan (evil).

It is not like Bollywood, or Islamists themselves, ever condemn these customs and practices widely prevalent in their own community. Many Bollywood actors, including Devgn, routinely visit the Ajmer Sharif, Nizamuddin Auliya and other dargahs, which too are swarmed by poor people begging for alms.

These actors ignore those beggars and buy glittered sheets and other gifts to offer to skeletons in the graves hoping they would fulfil their wishes! Why does this wisdom – “to please skeletons, you murdered flowers” – not occur to them then?

Not only do Bollywood ‘stars’ throng these dargahs to offer gifts to graves but also constantly sing their praises in the films. When was the last time any mainstream Bollywood film composed a respectful song on a famous temple?

The mockery of Hindus in Thank God gets worse. It is shown that a young boy accidentally burns his entire house down on Diwali by a firecracker. The scene that is supposed to be tragic is almost comical in the way it’s executed, but only those who are not aware of Bollywood’s age-old ‘manhus Hindu tyohar’ genre would smile at it.

Under this genre, films after films have used Hindu festivals such as Diwali or Holi as backdrop for gruesome murders, kidnappings and accidents of those who celebrate them. We believe this genre was popularised by Salim-Javed (writers Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar).

Watch the related scene in Thank God:

Why do these Bollywood wallahs think they are qualified to tell us how to pray to our deities and celebrate our festivals? Their idea of Diwali is mostly an ethnic-themed all-night party where celebs get sloshed. Do they think the rest of the country also views the festival like that?

In the film, there is also a joke about Ayaan’s mother, who shares Devi Maa’s posters on WhatsApp, asking people to forward them.

Does Director Inder Kumar expect us to believe that people of only one religion deserve to suffer ridicule and reform themselves, while others who do the exact same things but are not Hindus, are ideal citizens?

Thankfully, this Diwali-release failed miserably at the box office.

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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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Swati Goel Sharma is a journalist with close to 10 years of experience with India’s leading publications such as The Times of India and Hindustan Times. She writes mainly on issues concerning the deprived and marginalised groups, women and children.

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