When Mani Ratnam was hit by bomb for showing a Muslim girl fall in love with a Hindu boy

14th October 2020

14th October 2020

The latest ad campaign of Tanishq which showcased love jihad had a different impact on different people: some couldn't understand the reason for choosing such a sensitive topic to promote the products whereas some showed concern over the dangerous consequences it could have caused by showcasing a fantasy world to impressionable women.

But the most wondered fact was why the ad showed the inter-faith union of Hindu women and Muslim men and not the other way around?

The answer can be found with a clue from a 25 years old incident.

Filmmaker, Mani Ratnam had made a movie in 1995, Bombay, in which he showed a love story of a Muslim woman with a Hindu man.

A report of AP dated, July 10, 1995, says, “A director whose latest film angered Muslims by portraying religious violence and a Hindu-Muslim romance was wounded Monday by attackers who threw two homemade bombs at his house.”

The details can be read in this article:

Mani Ratnam was hospitalized with shrapnel injuries in his leg, the director’s brother, G. Venkateswaran, told the Press Trust of India news agency. A maid also was injured. The attackers threw the crude but powerful bombs as Ratnam sipped his morning coffee on a patio outside his two-story home in Madras, about 1,100 miles south of New Delhi, police said.

"Mani is a bit shaken, but he is all right,″ said the director’s wife, actress Suhasini Mani Ratnam, who was inside the house at the time of the attack. A watchman spotted the attackers as they prepared to throw a third bomb, said police officer R.N. Sawani. The men dropped the bomb and fled in a motorized rickshaw, waving a revolver to prevent anyone from chasing them, Sawani said.

No one claimed responsibility, but police suspect a radical Muslim group, Al-Umah, which has attacked Hindu leaders in Madras. In August 1993, the group set off a bomb in the office of a Hindu extremist organization, killing 11 people. Last September, the group was accused of killing a local Hindu activist. Ratnam’s movie "Bombay″ was controversial even before its release this year because it depicted Hindu-Muslim riots that killed 800 people in Bombay in 1993. It focuses on a romance between a Hindu man and a Muslim woman. (The movie) was also was banned in many Indian states that have large Muslim populations after Islamic groups complained that it showed the hero staring at the Muslim woman with her veil lifted.

If a bomb can be thrown on a filmmaker for representing a romantic movie based on a fictional love story of a Muslim woman and a Hindu man, a display of Hindu men marrying Muslim women might have made the situation worse.

Two Hindu men were murdered by their Muslim partners' families on the same day the Tanishq had released its ad. A Hindu man, Lakshmipathi was murdered in Bengaluru by his Muslim girlfriend's family as they were against their inter-religious marriage. An 18-year-old man, Rahul was killed in Delhi by the relatives of his Muslim girlfriend.

It's not new and surprising that the Indian ad industry depicts the union of Hindu women and Muslim men only when it's trying to present a secular narrative. Ads like that Tanishq released recently claims to be bold in an attempt to bring a change in the society that might not have any consequences by following a route which is socially acceptable and that can also score some brownie points of secularism by showcasing the union of Hindu women and Muslim men whereas the real bravery would have been in showcasing the story another way around.

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