Muslim Heroines in Mumbai Films, Secularism at its Best
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.
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.