Looking at history through religious lens dangerous distortion: Kabir Khan
Mumbai: Distortion of history and freedom fighters getting appropriated by the right-wing worries him, says filmmaker Kabir Khan, who believes looking at the country's past through religious lens is dangerous.
Kabir laments this "unfortunate time" when new narratives are constantly being spun around and history is being tailored to cater to a certain ideology.
In an interview with PTI, the filmmaker shares how the religious identity of emperors have now become talking points.
"The Mughals have now suddenly become these invaders and this whole 'religious identities of Mughals' is now... Let's face it. Those battles were not about religion, they were about territories.
"They wanted Delhi, you wanted Delhi and a lot of the times they and you were at equal distance from it, both went for it. Sometimes they won, sometimes you won. It was never about religion," Kabir says.
Giving an example of Babur, Kabir says he took over Delhi by defeating, not a Rajput Prince, but Ibrahim Lodi.
"Who did the Lodis take over from? The Tughlaqs. They did it from Khalji and it goes back to thousand years. Religion was never the reason they fought. In the medieval history, kings wanted territory and didn't care whether that person was a Hindu, Muslim or Christian.
"Now, those battles are being re-presented and shown to our audiences as a battle of religions, which is the most dangerous and terrible distortion of history," he adds.
Kabir has directed the upcoming web series "The Forgotten Army" for Amazon Prime, which chronicles the story of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army.
The filmmaker has gone back to present a period of history at a time when the right wing has appropriated Bose, who was a self-described leftist, socialist and against any religious identity.
"The Right has also appropriated Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who had banned them," Kabir adds.
When asked how does he see the right wing embracing a figure like Bose, Kabir says he is concerned.
"Netaji would definitely not like the Right to appropriate him. He was very strongly against any kind of religious fundamentalism. We are living in a day and age where social media seems to be our source of information.
"Some people are using it to... As they say, repeat a lie several times and it becomes the truth. It is really uncomfortable that the right wing is appropriating Netaji, because Netaji would be really uncomfortable with it," he says.
The "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" helmer says this appropriation of Bose is nothing but an attempt to present him as a counterpoint to Jawaharlal Nehru.
"They are doing that, without understanding that the culture, ethos of politicians of that time was that they could have ideological differences but that never led to personal enmity. But, there was no lack of respect there."
The right wing, Kabir says, does not want people to get into facts.
"The two largest brigades of the Azad Hind Fauj are called the 'Gandhi Brigade' and the 'Nehru Brigade. When Netaji was taking the first military review parade of the Azad Hind Fauj in front of the Singapore city... With General Tojo (of Imperial Japanese Army) standing next to him and 30,000 Indian soldiers marching, there is only one portrait hanging: that of Mahatma Gandhi. Those are the details they would like us not to see."
"The Forgotten Army" will stream from January 24.
- By Justin Rao