Muslim Film Stars in a Predominant Hindu enviornment
India is second only to Hollywood in world cinema. In fact, the combined Indian film production in all languages is way ahead of the total number of films produced in Hollywood. Generally Hollywood produces films only in English, but Indian films are made in Hindi, regional languages as well as English( Albeit very few in English). India is a country with secular credentials and the same is enshrined in the Constitution, though more than 80% profess the Hindu faith. The Muslim population is about 12%. A point worth noting is that there are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan.
Right from the inception of the film industry in Mumbai, the top actors and other supports of the film like music directors and producers were Muslim.This phenomenon cannot be explained as Islam at least the Wahabbi concept frowns on music and dance.
Secularism in India
Despite an overwhelming Hindu population, the 3 top Hindi film stars are Muslims. We have Amir Khan,Shahrukh Khan, and Salman Khan as the top 3 stars on the Hindi screen. This will be a surprise to people in America and one wonders whether the top star in Hollywood can be a Muslim and will the masses accept him.
In India however despite an overwhelming Hindu population the top 3 stars as well as the highest paid are Muslims. This is an example of tolerance as well as secularism. It also shows that Hindus appreciate art for sake of art and religion has no place.
Yet there is a dichotomy and Hindu-Muslim riots do take place and when a conflagration will take place can not be forecast. The silver lining, however,is the success of these Muslim stars who further the Hindu culture by acting as Hindus in almost all their films
The Three Khans
As things stand the number one star is Salman Khan with the other 2 close behind. Even among the actresses, the top star is a Muslim, Katrina Kaif and she is not averse to wearing bikinis and revealing clothes. However, the success of Indian films has lured some English girls like Amy Jackson to India for acting as well. Incidentally, Amy is doing well and starred in the recent hit " Singh is Bling".
The fact is the Indian people are not a bigoted lot and despite all the propaganda, Muslims are recognized as part of India.All the top Muslim stars act in roles that portray Hindu characters. They are not averse to acting as heroes in Hindu mythological films and in one of his biggest hits Salman Khan acted the role of a follower of the Hindu god Hanuman in the film " Bajrangi Bhaijan".
Even before the 3 Khan's came, the reigning king of the Mumbai screen was also a Muslim Yusuf Khan, who had adopted the screen name of Filip Kumar. In the early fifties of the last century, the top heroines like Nargis, Nimmi, Meena Kumari and Munawar Sultana were all Muslims. Mumbai remains the rival to Hollywood and is often referred to as Bollywood.
Something rare and to be Appreciated
The Indian people readily accept a star if he or she is good, irrespective of their religion. It is a wonder that at the moment no Hindu Star matches the appeal and following of these three Khan's. The Hindi film industry is primarily located in Mumbai, which is the home of the Shiv Sena, the diehard Hindu party, yet their effect is minimal. One can safely say that secularism is alive and kicking in India and one cannot see a similar thing happening anywhere else in the world.
The success of the 3 Khan's has lasted over 2 decades and one can recollect the earlier Muslim star ruled for over 3 decades. I am referring to the legendary Dilip Kumar.