BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Date of Submission



Aliya Iqbal Naqvi, Visiting Faculty, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


India’s mega movie industry based in Bombay, popularly known as Bollywood, is loved and watched by millions across the globe. However, Bollywood movies have recently seen a surge in their anti-Muslim rhetoric, which often directly or otherwise, targets Pakistan. Recent scholarship has explored this phenomenon in light of the growing discrimination against India’s large Muslim minority. This qualitative study aims to extend the scope of inquiry to understand the reception of the many and longstanding Pakistani-Muslim viewers of Bollywood films to this agenda against their identities. Using the theoretical frameworks of Bell Hooks, Purnima Mankekar, and Rosa Tsagarousianou, this paper documents the responses of Pakistani Muslim viewers towards four particular films that contain a strong anti-Muslim/Pakistani agenda: Raazi (2018), Shershaah (2021) Padmaavat (2018) and Veer Zaara (2004). Pakistani-Muslim audiences from different generations and genders were recruited for a comprehensive and cross-generational analysis, using focus groups and in-depth interviews. The findings were complex and varied. Generally, perceived attacks on their Muslim identity engendered greater resistance in this audience over their Pakistani identity. Older viewers were more averse to negative portrayals than younger audiences. Moreover, findings illustrate that ultimately agency belongs to audiences, who find ways to enjoy films with potentially problematic narratives, choosing when to dissociate. Other important recurring themes in the study were childhood associations, loyalty to the stars, and socio-cultural comfort with Hindi cinema.



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