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ATimes: Scorn for Bollywood ban
By Kalinga Seneviratne
28/3/2001 11:59 am Wed
[Cerita Bollywood telah ditayang terlalu berlebih-lebihan
sehingga kehormatan hari raya dan bulan puasa turut tercemar.
Umumnya cerita Bollywood berkisar kepada kisah hidup yang
memerlukan dua 'nyawa' yang dirasakan segala-galanya:
1) Cinta kepada seseorang yang menjadi impian dan
2) Hiburan menjadi penghias kehidupan yang tidak dapat dipisahkan.
Baik atau tidak cerita Bollywood dapat dipastikan dengan melihat
gelagat anak muda yang menonton berjam-jam. Mereka menjadi rindu
kepada seseorang sehingga lupa sesuatu yang terpegang. Padahal
ada satu lagi cinta lain yang lebih agung dari segala-galanya.
Cinta kepada tuhan walaupun Dia tidak dapat dipandang tetapi
hati merasa senang dan tenteram dimana hiburan dunia pun tidak
akan mampu merangsang.
Scorn greets Malaysian clerics' call for Bollywood ban
By Kalinga Seneviratne
KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government is moving to counter what it
says is the negative influence of popular Indian movies on the
majority Malay population, including the possibility of importing
Arabic movies for screening on television networks here.
A lively debate has been going on in the media here in recent weeks
after the Malaysian Council of Islamic Jurists (Mufti) said in late
February that Indian movies, which are hugely popular here, are having
a corrupting influence on the majority Malay population. The council
said their screening on local television should be restricted, a
proposal that has been met with objection and scorn by commentators,
analysts and followers of these films.
Council spokesman Harussani Zakaria said that these movies have a
strong influence among poorer Malays, who have much spare time to
watch television. This, he argued, exposed viewers to excessively
passionate scenes available in Hindi movies, which lead to incidents
Ethnic Malays make up half of Malaysia's 22 million people. A quarter
are ethnic Chinese, and 8 percent are ethnic Indians.
The government immediately announced a study into the social impact of
Indian movies in Malaysia and persuaded television channels, which
have been showing Bollywood movies almost every day, to limit the
screenings from April. Likewise, the government says that it will
import Arabic movies and ask the television networks to screen these
to balance the Indian influence.
Information Minister Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob recently told a gathering
of leaders of the ruling United Malays National Organization (Umno)
party that these movies should be wecomed by Malaysia's Muslim viewers
because they were produced by Muslim countries. The Muslim clerics
were also upset by the almost non-stop screening of Indian movies by
all the national television channels, particularly during the end of
the fasting month Hari Raya (Ramadan) festive day in December.
But the Mufti's call to limit Indian movies have been greeted with
much skepticism and scorn by Bollywood fans in Malaysia. Many media
commentators have also condemned the call.
"The fact is Malaysians of all races love to watch Bollywood movies,
whether for the soap opera storyline, the handsome actors or beautiful
actresses, panoramic scenery or the catchy songs and dance routings,"
said the English-language daily Star in an editorial. "After being a
source of popular entertainment for more than half a century, it is
strange that questions are being asked whether Bollywood movies are a
negative influence on Malaysian youth," it added.
Saying that more than 60 percent of Malaysians are fans of Bollywood,
the Star said sarcastically: "At this rate, there must be quite a
number of us with a bent toward violence and mayhem."
"How in the name of anything could Hindi movies be an immoral
influence?" asked Tripat Narayanan, writing in the Sun newspaper. He
argues that the real reason for the opposition lies in concerns about
cultural influence due to the frenzied following Indian movies have
here. "The glitz and glamor of Bollywood is indeed infectious," he
pointed out. "Already the Malay baju [flowing traditional dress] is
aligned along the lines of the salwar-kameez-dupatta [Indian] fashion.
The local music industry is all but overtaken by Bollywood and its
Opposition politician and Islamic scholar Dr Chandra Muzaffar argues
that it is wrong to blame Bollywood movies for the social ills of the
Malays. "I don't think the movies generally bring negative values," he
said. "Very often, it's the triumph of good over evil."
The Mufti members are also believed to be concerned about the statues,
images and idols of Hindus in Indian films. But Chandra argues that
just because viewers see these statues does not mean they are going to
surrender their faith. "If that's the depth of one's belief, then I
think the Muslim clerics have a lot to answer for," he added.
Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, who are extremely
popular especially among Malay women, are Muslims. Chandra says one
problem the Muslim clerics see may be that these actors' taking part
in Hindu rituals in the films. But this should not be seen as a
problem, he argues, because they are doing a job as actors, not
representatives of a religion.
According to media reports, sources close to the Muslim clerics have
said these clerics are also worried about what to them has been the
increasing incidents of Malay girls marrying Bangladeshi migrant
workers in the country - because they are seen as look-alikes of the
Chandra dismisses these simplistic arguments. He points out that in
factories in the countryside, Malay women and Bangladeshi men work
side by side, while Malay men shun these jobs. This creates the
environment for inter-ethnic romances, he says. "Malays and Indians
have intermarried long before Bollywood or migrant workers came here,"
he said. "Malay history is full of interaction with Indian
civilization. So I don't think we must make a big issue out of this."
The number of Malaysian women marrying Bangladeshis has already
prompted the government to clamp down on the hiring of migrant workers
Many fans of Bollywood movies have asked why the government is not
asking for restrictions on the screening of Hollywood and Chinese
movies on local television, saying they perhaps show more sex and
violence than Indian ones.
Even Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently said that Western rap
music with vulgar, sexist and violent lyrics is a greater threat to
Malay youth and culture. Yet, so far, there have been no moves to
restrict its broadcasts in Malaysia. One reason may be that Hollywood
and other Western products are popular mainly among the urban middle
class, while Bollywood films are popular in the Malay heartland.
"It [Bollywood] is wrongly identified with another community in our
midst - the people of Indian origin. Hollywood and western culture, we
all know, has a strong influence, but it is not readily identified
with a community in our midst," observed Chandra.
The Muslim clerics' call has also come at a rather awkward time for
the Mahathir government, which has been strongly wooing the Bollywood
film industry in recent months to entice it to use Malaysia as a
location for shooting films. In fact, a few weeks before the clerics'
outburst, leading Bollywood stars were filming their song and dance
sequences for a new film opposite leading landmarks in the capital,
such as the Federal Court building, the Petronas Twin Towers and the
The Malaysian government sees such collaboration as crucial to their
plans to develop a multibillion dollar film production center here, as
well as to tap into the increasing Indian tourist market. Thus, while
the government is trying to please the Islamic clerics, it is also
taking pains to ensure that this issue does not get out of hand.
"We have received complaints from some quarters about the influence of
Bollywood movies, but, at the same time, we also received support for
such movies, especially from women," said Khalil, while explaining the
government's move to bring in Arabic movies. Added Khalil: "To be
fair, we are looking at showing more Arab movies, besides continuing
to show Bollywood movies."
(Inter Press Service)