Vishwaroopam reinforcing global communal stereotypes; justifying US Empire
by Feroze Mithiborwala on 10 Feb 2013 5 Comments

I was a little benumbed whilst watching this technically advanced but socio-politically regressive movie. Kamal Haasan lied to all of us when he stated that this movie is his tribute to Indian Muslims and will make them proud. This movie had me even more worried than ever. The message propagated all through the course of this slick production is basically – “One Good Muslim, All the rest - Bad Muslims”.


The hero, Taufik, is an Indian Muslim who saves the world, whilst the rest of the Muslims portrayed in the movie, are all committed to destruction and mayhem, all in the name of their religion. This is the state of the world – Vishwaroopam.


Still, let me categorically state that I do not support any cuts, or further censorship of the mobs. But I will certainly strive to counter this movie intellectually and ideologically, which is where the true battle lies.


Vishwaroopam justifies the US wars and occupation of Afghanistan in ways that even Hollywood would have felt ashamed to portray, all for an NRI audience, I guess. My first doubts about the movie stemmed from the posters with the ‘stars and stripes’ prominent in the background; I knew trouble was brewing for the Indian Tiranga is far less prominent and even missing for the most part. So much for NRI nationalism, or for the Resident Non-Indians, the chatterati…


Coming back to the movie, I have never ever seen so many scenes of namaz in a single film. There is a sickeningly strong overdose of Islamic imagery, the overwhelming majority of it linked to negativity and violence. The movie is one big screenplay of namaz and bombs, namaz and Terror, namaz and Violence. I wonder how Kamal Haasan, who also wrote the script, thought this would help the cause of Indian Muslims.


The script is deeply flawed, lacks intelligence and honest research. One expected more from Bollywood after certain good movies dealing with this genre - Dhoka (Mahesh Bhatt), New York (Kabeer Khan), Qurbaan (Saif Ali Khan), My Name is Khan (Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan), Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) and last but not the least Tere Bin Laden (Abhishek Sharma). Besides being the best political satire in a generation, it had a far more credible Bin Laden look-alike than the ones in CIA-produced videos.


All the above movies were honest efforts; a degree of intelligent sensitivity has gone into researching the scripts and directing these movies, none of which faced any public opprobrium or ire, even though they were far more complex than this ignominious, ill-conceived prejudiced charade called Vishwaroopam. Yet, I want no cuts here.


The two lines attributed to Rahul Bose are the most dangerous and misleading of all dialogues in the movie. Rahul Bose, who plays Umar (possibly an allusion to Taliban leader, Mullah Umar), faces an assault on his village. The Taliban have captured a few American soldiers and are on the move. The US army attacks the village where they have been led by a trace, with the help of Kamal Haasan, who plays Taufik, a RAW agent. Taufik has infiltrated the ranks of the Taliban to rise to be the ipso facto No. 2.


With the US helicopter gunships blazing away as they did in Vietnam and Iraq, as they do in Somalia, Yemen and Libya - and hope to in Syria - the Taliban are on the run. Here Rahul Umar Bose assures his fellow Taliban – “Don’t worry, the Americans do not kill women and children”. Really? All one could think of in that Shakespearian moment was - “Et Tu Rahul!!”


This dialogue would be considered ridiculous by the Americans themselves, who always refer to the deaths of civilians as ‘collateral damage’, but Kamal Haasan in his willful pandering has gone beyond the worst in Hollywood.


Thus the movie further portrays the US soldier manning the gunship as feeling sorry for killing innocents, whilst all Afghans are portrayed as dehumanized killing machines. Our immediate neighbours can hardly appreciate this movie, but who cares, our movies reflect our skewed foreign policy. And Afghans are not exactly a market yet.


Rahul (Umar) Bose’s second statement is even more dangerous. Talking Kamal (Taufik) Haasan, he smilingly and nonchalantly mentions that “We were also involved in the terror attacks of Malegaon, Bombay and other Indian cities”. In the Tamil and Telugu versions, Coimbatore and Madurai are mentioned.


So the film is basically stating that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are active in India and certain sections of Indian Muslims are certainly enmeshed with the global terror network. This will prove catastrophic in the subconscious perceptions that tend to get deeply ingrained. It can only be disastrous for Indian Muslims.


Many Hollywood movies with a geopolitical strategic agenda seem to be produced in tandem with the Pentagon to further the US imperial agenda of global hegemony and advancement of the Military-Industrial-Corporate-Media Complex. Hollywood already portrays Muslims in general as terrorists and fanatics, whose societies need to be invaded and civilized - and their resources taken over.


Kamal Haasan’s film falls in the same category of disinformation and propaganda to justify the wars, occupation and genocide of the Afghan nation and also the people of Pakistan. There is not even a fleeting reference to the drone attacks and the killings of innocents, of women and children – and how this continues to create and foster more and more militants and terrorists.


In one place there is a meeting between the leadership of the Taliban led by Rahul (Umar) and Al Qaeda-Osama Bin Laden. Here I would mention that, notwithstanding his supposed assassination in Abbottabad, many honest experts believe that OBL has been dead since December 15, 2001.


Anyway, soon after the carnage at Rahul (Umar’s) village, we are transported to America where Kamal (Taufik) Haasan is working incognito singing and dancing to songs written by Javed Akhtar. Now a terror network begins to unravel and we have Rahul (Umar) planning to explode a Dirty Bomb made of waste radioactive material, which the Good Muslim foils, but only after saying his namaz! And in the room with the Dirty Bomb is a Bad Muslim, an African-American of Nigerian descent, busy offering namaz before he blows up the city!


This is another serious problem with the film – the tarnishing of African-American Muslims as part of the global terror network. Most Hollywood movies are sensitive enough to portray the African American as the FBI boss under whom White officers serve. But here the RAW agent works with only Whites, presumably Anglo-Saxon agents, whilst the African-American Muslim is in tandem with the Taliban. Another case of out-sourcing, I guess.


Again, Kamal Haasan fails in his research. The terror attacks portrayed in the film have never occurred. Also, the FBI has been entrapping Muslim youth from various ethnic backgrounds, as is well documented. Since there are no serious terror threats to America, the FBI actually manufactures them to justify Homeland Security and its gargantuan powers and budget. FBI agents, informers, or ex-convicts are sent into Muslim communities in order to create terrorists. In the course of a year, some youth with mainly a criminal background do get entrapped due to intensive indoctrination about the crimes of the American Empire against their people. These youth are then induced and provided training to carry out a terror attack. Targets are identified, funds, bombs and ammunition provided and the day they carry out the attack, they are apprehended red-handed. The bombs turn out to be fake and so do the guns and that is how stupid this supposed terrorists are.



This information is now available in the mainstream corporate media and should have been studied by Kamal (Taufik) Haasan before trying to give the FBI a positive image in India. Vishwaroopam is basically a propaganda tool for the FBI and the US Empire.


Anyway, the plot is foiled, America is saved, sorry, the world is saved – Rahul (Umar) and his Taliban cohorts decide to flee to – India, for God’s sake!! Thus we end with the inevitability of Vishwaroopam II-India!


Actually Kamal Haasan might consider shifting the next locale to Qatar, where the Good Taliban now has a functioning office. Here they will all have ample security as the US has a vast network of naval and air force bases



Rahul (Umar) Bose, the FBI-CIA and Kamal (Taufik) Haasan can sort out all their problems there itself, without dragging India into the picture.


Feroze Mithiborwala is an activist who mainly focuses upon Muslim community issues in India; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and Western imperialism in Asia. He led a humanitarian convoy from India to Gaza in the winter of 2010-11

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