MUMBAI - Bollywood Star Tiger Shroff’s latest “action movie” *Baaghi 2* has hit a new low which highlights the Indian Army humiliation and ridiculing the Kashmiri youth as ideal.
In an exceptional display of callousness, this new Sajid Nadiadwala film decided to address an issue that has continued to be contentious since April 2017, when Farooq Ahmad Dar, an innocent Kashmiri voter, was forcibly used as a human shield by Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi of the 53rd Rashtriya Rifles to deter stone pelters.
On April 9, 2017, Dar, a Kashmiri shawl-maker, had left home along with his cousin after casting his vote to attend the funeral procession of a relative in Gaumpora. Upon reaching Utilgam — a nearby village — they were stopped by Major Gogoi and Dar was tied to the front bumper of the Army jeep as it patrolled villages, and used as a human shield against stone-throwing crowds.
It was a human rights violation and shocked the world. The Army, of course, went ahead and honoured Gogoi with the Army chief's Commendation Card for "sustained efforts" in counter-insurgency operations.
Art imitates life, and how.
In *Baaghi 2*, Army officer Ranveer Pratap Singh (played by Tiger Shroff) is seen using a man in Kashmir (possibly a militant or a stone pelter) as a human shield, tying him to the hood of his jeep to protect himself from an angry crowd. Film critic Raja Sen, in his review, writes: “It is the kind of thing I expected Hindi cinema to tackle at some point, but not in a Tiger Shroff film where his reasoning for this inhumanity is that somebody burned the Indian flag.”
A lot cannot be expected of a film industry that still uses tropes like casual (and sometimes not-so-casual) misogyny, homophobia and transphobia as crutches to drive films. In Bollywood, movie producers bank on stars instead of a coherent storyline to sell cinema.
Pakistan-bashing, hypernationalism and vein-popping bursts of patriotism are fixtures in Army films in the Hindi film industry. But even for Bollywood, this moment feels like a new low.