When you are making a satire there are a lot of risks involved and the team of Bangistan are currently facing that. Bangistan is already banned in UAE. Singapore is next in line. And of course, Pakistan has taken offense over its content while a group called Hindu Legal Cell is screaming foul against the CBFC’s decision to allow its release.
So why this hullabaloo over a movie? Bangistan has chosen to tackle the subject of terrorism through comedy and this has ruffled feathers and bruised egos. A tale of two fools and wannabe suicide bombers, one Hindu and another Muslim, Bangistan promises to take you to a comic space where you have never been before. It gives the audience a microscopic view of the weird world of religious extremism and brainwashing. Starring Pulkit Samrat and Riteish Deshmukh who are in the lead roles, and directed by former critic Karan Anshuman, Bangistan tries to understand how terrorism has used religion as a tool to propagate its hard-line ideologies.
Satire is always a powerful weapon to explore controversial subjects because it attempts to keep the mood lighter and Bollywood has a long list of satires done perfectly where no subject was a taboo. Like the ultra-cool Tere Bin Laden that showed a world obsessed with Osama Bin Laden and a bumbling reporter’s American Dreams and how he uses the opportunity when he discovers an Osama lookalike. Then there is Oh My God, a send-up on religion and how it has become a business. While the former didn’t cause much controversy the latter once again got religious fringe groups together as they shouted and screamed against this abomination.
Now if we go back a bit in time we can see how satire has always caused an offence. Kissa Kursi Ka, a satirical tale of the politics of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi was banned during the Emergency and all its prints confiscated and burned. This was seen as a direct breach of freedom of expression. Since the movie chose to criticise a leading political figure it was targeted and denied a release.
Coming to Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, which is one of the finest satires ever made in India was a scathing, if comical, look at corruption and how it was destroying the country. Starring Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani in the lead roles it is now a cult comedy about two incompetent photographers who unearth a conspiracy and are later victimized for it. Bangistan, in some sense, is trying to follow that path where the two wannabe suicide bombers have no clue what they are getting into. Then of course there are offbeat satirical movies such as Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho and Om-Dar-Ba-Dar that literally tries to fit in the quality of satire to the mundane middle-class existence.
In recent times movies like Peepli Live, Khatta Meetha as well as PK have managed to do rather well. PK, a satire on religion in the lines of Oh My God, went on to become one of the highest grossing Hindi movies of all time. But again movies like Mohalla Assi, a satirical take on the holy city of Benaras is under fire for the excessive use of explicit words – result being, its release is delayed thanks to random groups protesting against it.
Satire when done well not only entertains but manages to drive home point on whatever subject it is dealing with. The audience leaves the hall feeling cathartic and educated and this is the sole reason why more quality satires are needed.
That’s why Bangistan is important.