As Anubhav Sinha's Mulk completes 4 years, we examine its growing relevance and why it continues to make an impact.
On this day in 2019, when "Mulk" was released in theatres, we wished that its relevance would decrease in the coming years. Sadly, it hasn't! Based in Benaras, Uttar Pradesh, Mulk is the story of a Muslim family who has to prove their innocence after a family member becomes a terrorist.
The film begins with a beautiful picture of how different religions co-exist in India. How a Chaubey secretly eats non-vegetarian food while a Mohammed wishes his Hindu friend "Jai Shree Ram". However, the film soon raises the question "Who is a good Muslim?". In the protagonist, Murad Ali Mohammed's (Rishi Kapoor) words, this is a question that, as per the Quran, Allah will ask every Muslim on the Day of Judgement. The same question is, however, routinely asked on news channels and in whispered conversations today. Another thoughtful question raised is "Satya zyada aavashyak hai ya nyaay?" (What is more important - truth or justice?) The film also questions our institutions, our law, and the communal definition of terrorism. It questions our sense of justice and conscience.
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Through minute details, the film portrays the various instances of casual Islamophobia that we all indulge in. A Hindu neighbor casually saying, "Hum inke ghar ka khana nahi khate" at a Muslim house, our common misunderstanding that "Jihad" means war, these are examples of casual Islamophobia that we're all guilty of committing. We see how deeply religion affects one through Aaftab (Indraneil Sengupta) who is concerned about the religion of his future child. We see it when the lawyer and daughter-in-law, Aarti (Taapsee Pannu) prays to Hindu deities before appearing in the court defending her Muslim in-laws.
One might say that the film has a Centrist approach since the movie repeatedly indicates that people are filled with communal hatred in all religions. However, there's no exaggeration in the movie making it believable. After all, while a terrorist has communal objectives, a bomb kills people regardless of their religion. Regardless of religion, hatred spreads just like love can spread too. Ideologies continue to live even after active promoters die and misogyny, too, is an inherent and intersectional part of society. Meanwhile, a Hindu (Aarti) saving a Muslim (Murad) represents the savior complex. While the majority makes for a good ally, only the oppressed can and should lead the fight.
The film makes an impact as it asks us to reconsider the view that divides us into hum and woh instead of making us a whole hum. As the movie finishes 4 years today, we hope that even though we love Mulk, its relevance decreases over the coming years. We hope that we, as a society, learn from this well-intentioned film and from our mistakes giving way to peaceful solidarity.