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Muslim Heroines in Mumbai Films, Secularism at its Best

Updated on December 23, 2017

Muslims in Mumbai Films

The Indian Film Industry

India is second only to Hollywood in terms of global clientele. But in the number of films produced, more films are churned out in India than Hollywood. In India, films are produced in a number of regional languages, but the pride of place goes to the Urdu/Hindi films which have Mumbai as their base. Thus Mumbai film world is called Bollywood to rival Hollywood. The name Bollywood was adopted as Mumbai was earlier known as Bombay.

Mumbai Film Industry

The Mumbai film industry holds pride of place as far as the Indian film industry is concerned. Numerous heroines have adorned the silver screen as in Hollywood, but one startling fact that defies explanation is the preponderance of Muslim girls as heroines in Hindi films. This is more intriguing when you realize that 85% of the population is Hindu and the Muslims number just about 10-12%.

The Enigma of Muslim Girls as Heroines

Muslim heroines have dominated Hindi cinema. This is very intriguing as Islam is a closed religion and does not allow a woman to be scantily dressed. Islam also imposes many restrictions on the dress and conduct of women, but the Muslim heroines in India have not allowed religious dogma to enter their professional world. Muslim girls are in the front of the bare-all brigade and also act out love scenes with kisses and dances with gusto.

First Muslims Girls came from Areas now Known as Pakistan

Most of the earlier or old-time Muslim heroines came to Mumbai from Punjab and the Frontier and when India was partitioned none of them opted to go to Pakistan. This is a fact and these glorious women stayed back in India. Most of the Mumbai film industry is dominated by Muslims and this has been so since the dawn of Independence and even earlier.

Famous Muslim Heroines

A look at the list of Mumbai heroines reads like a who is who listing of actors who profess the Islamic faith. Starting with Nargis and Meena Kumari followed by Madhubala and Nimmi the Moslem heroines are the pick of Mumbai films. By chorology, they are also the dream girls of the Hindu masses who I dare say adore them. The list is endless and names of Shyama, Nimmi( Nawab Bano), Surayia, Praveen Babi and Zeenat Aman are a byword.

This shows the secular strength of India and is something unmatched anywhere else. Some of the Moslem heroines did adopt Hindu names. But that was just after partition when Hindu Muslim riots had occurred, but now they like Katrina Kaif, Nargis Fakih, and Zia Khan go by their own names. Most Muslim heroines flaunted their sex appeal and were not averse to exposure of body or daring scenes.

International recognition

Many Muslim Heroines have made it to the world stage and Praveen Babi was featured on the cover of Time magazine

Islamic Rhetoric and Muslim Heroines

Muslim heroines are not trapped by Islamic rhetoric and are pragmatic and wear the most modern dresses including beach ware. It is a tribute that these girls though Muslim have defied orthodoxy. For this alone they deserve a pat. While Muslim heroines thrive in India, in Pakistan the film industry is in the doldrums . there are also severe restrictions on Muslim heroines in Pakistan and the result is that many Muslim girls from Pakistan opt for a career in Mumbai films. the dream of most actresses from Pakistan film industry is to get a chance to act in Mumbai films. The center of Pakistan film Industry is Lahore, but it is just a shadow and has no clientele.

Secularism In India

The world can take an example from Mumbai films and realize that given the necessary impetus Islam is not all that forbidding. Maybe it is the effect of the Hindu mind that has rubbed on these girls. You can't expect any Muslim actress flaunting her body in an Islamic country. I can only say it is a tribute to Indian secularism.

Muslim girls also feel safer in India and the hardliners are kept in check. These girls deserve to be admired as they are like a beacon in a closed world of Islam. Perhaps this was possible only in India and in the end, we must give credit to the overwhelming Hindu population that has allowed this phenomenon to flower.

Top Muslim heroine katrina Kaif in a song


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    • MG Singh profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      3 years ago from Singapore

      Dear Au Fait, thank you so much for your advice. You are a gem.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      3 years ago from North Texas

      I note that you have published 136 hubs, yet only 9 are visible and available here on your profile page to be read.

      To correct that, go to your profile page. Click on "Edit Profile." Go to almost the bottom of that page where it says "Show only Featured Hubs on my profile:" Click on the 'NO' box and then all of your hubs will be visible again on your profile page.

      I realize they have been idled, which is why they aren't showing, but that's no reason not to make them available for readers interested in them. After all your work of writing them, let people who wish to read them do so. The advertising remains on them, so benefit all you can from them even though they are not currently indexed by Google.

      The reason most hubs are idled is because they do not get enough traffic. It isn't always because they are defective. While it never hurts to edit and re-edit one's work for spelling and grammar errors, etc. (one's own eyes never seem able to find them all, but going over it again and again is helpful), the main thing is to use words in your title that someone might use if they were searching for information like the info in that specific hub. Ask yourself what words would you use if you were searching for this info. Use those words in your title.

      Look forward to seeing all of your hubs available again!

    • MG Singh profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      An answer from an expert! Thanks for coutnibntirg.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Please make me famous actor of bollywood movies

    • MG Singh profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      This honor killings are very much prevelent in Pakistan. Almost 8000 honor killings took place in 2011. These people when they migrate to the west take their culture with them and honor killings is one of them .

    • profile image

      Writer Chuck 

      7 years ago

      MG Singh,

      Thanks for clearing that up for me. Its confusing as here in the USA there have been women killed by their father's for becoming to westernized. These killings are called honor killings. I find it hard to understand the mind of anyone who calls killing his daughters a matter of honor.

    • MG Singh profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Chuck! This happens only in Muslim countries and not in India.

    • profile image

      Writer Chuck 

      7 years ago

      mG singh,

      A very interesting hub. I thought muslim women were not allowed to be in the public eye without the proper attire.

    • MG Singh profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you greatstuff

    • greatstuff profile image


      7 years ago from Malaysia

      MG, this is an interesting observation. Never realise this fact that most of the famous actresses are Muslim.


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