Bollywood’s Most Uncomfortable Question
Note – i usually stay away from any kind of communal discourse and even when commenting on one, i make it a point to use terms like ‘a certain socio – cultural group’ rather than name communities. but since this post is an unbiased effort to put things in perspective, i am using the names of various (not just two) communities. also the fact that i will have to use them so many times and for so many communities, that it will be very cumbersome to keep referring to them with other phrases.
still if the mods feel this post is beyond the scope of naachgaana, they can remove it rather than banning me. and i hope no abusive comments of communal nature are posted.
well this is the most uncomfortable question (at least for liberals and seculars) that has ever risen concerning bollywood. there has been a certain section of audiences in genral and NG mebers in particular who seem to think that the three khans (or may be all khans) are deliberately propped by muslim fans. on the surface the exceptionally high percentage of muslim actors in india (3 out of 10 = 30%, 6 out of 15 = 40% ) in recent times makes this a valid, rational and legitimate question and there is nothing wrong with raising it.
as an aside, in a larger socio-political context i would like to state that i believe politics and society at large have to take the method of working for various ‘interest groups’ and i have nothing against the dalit politics of mayawati, hindu politics of bjp or even maratha manus politics of sena/MNS, as long as the leaders keep the interests of their groups on the table in a discussion and no violence is used to protect them at ground level. in fact that’s exactly how the interests of smaller (weaker) groups like minorities, women, gays etc. can be protected.
coming back to bollywood and the supposed (current) ’over representation’ of khans/muslims, let me make my case that its purely by the theory of probability and the larger sample (of time or names) you take you will realize that the representation of muslims in bollywood is not disproportionately high at all.
first lets understand a basic scientific truth. take an evenly designed/built coin. when you toss it once and ‘tails’ comes up the conclusion can be drawn that its 100% tails every time you toss a coin. but toss it again and if a head comes, your theory goes for a ‘toss’. but even if the second time again ‘tail’ comes it still doesn’t prove that the probability of ‘tail’ is 100% the 3rd time a head comes and the probability of heads and tails looks 33:66 percent. but even that is wrong. the more times you toss the coin, the more you see the gap between the two decreasing. finally at a very high ‘even number’ it will have to be 50-50 and a very high odd number there will be a very small gap which will go away as you toss the coin once more. this off course assuming there is no bias in the design of the coin (like sholay’s coin)
simlarly though 40% of today’s top stars may appear to be muslims that make up less than 20% of indian population, if you take top 20 stars of bollywood in over all 100 years, the percentage will go down. see it for yourself.
1. k l sehgal 2. ashok kumar 3. dilip kumar 4. raj akpoor 5. devanand 6. rajendra kumar 7. manoj kumar 8. dharmendra 9. sunil dutt 10. jeetendra 11. rajesh khanna 12. amitabh bachchan 13. vinod khanna 14 shashi kapor 15. shatrughan sinha 17. rishi kapoor. 18 . sunny deol 19 sanjay dutt 20 jackie shroff
if u realize the representation of muslims in the top 20 till the 80s is just 5% . is it because of any communal bias of audiences? NO!
Now here are two ways to prove it. 1st is to increase the list further.
21. anil akpoor 22. mithun chakraborty 23. aamir khan 24 salman khan 25 ajay devgan 26. govinda 27 aksahy kumar 28 sunil shetty 29 shahrukh khan 30 saif ali khan
as you see just by taking list to top 30 (50% longer than top 20) what seemed like a 75% bias against the ‘muslim actors has been already corrected.
the other way is to look at the top heroines.
if u were in the 40s and 50s you cpould be forgiven for thinking that all bollywood heroines were muslims (this off course would not annoy as much because all social prejudices operate with an inbulit gender bias in which ‘their women coming is always ok but not ‘their men’ coming in. but that’s not within the scope of this article.)
1. durga khote 2. suraiya 3. noorjehaan 4. kamini kaushal 5. nargis 6 madhubala 7. meena kumari 8. nutan 9. waheeda rehman 10 vyjyantimala
on the surface it seems that 20% muslim women represent 50% of the industry. but increase the list and you see the ratio becoming fair, so to speak.
11. mala sinha 12. asha parekh 13 saira banu 14. sharmila tagore 15. saadhna 16. babita 17 hema malini 18. rekha 19. zeeant amaan 20 jaya bhaduri
even now it appears that muslim women are over represented at 7 out of 20 = 35%
but trust the theory of probability to correct the bias ’randomly’
21 reena roy 22. dimple kapadia 23 parveen babi 24 amrita singh 25 sridevi 26 jaya prada 27 meenakshi sheshadri 28 madhuri dikshit 29 raveena tondon 30 manisha koirala
as 3 more muslim heroines (reena roy, dimple kapadia, parveen babi) appear in the list it looks like that at 10 out of 30, they still over represented. but take the list to 40 and see.
31 karisma kapoor 32 kajol 33 tabu 34 sonali bnedre 35 rani mukherji 36 shilpa shetty 37 a iashwarya rai 38 kareena kapoor 39 priyanka chopra 40 katrina kaif
and you see at 12 0ut of 40 the ratio has come down to less tha 30 % add deepika padukone, anushka sharma, asin , pareeniti and older ones like kanan devi, ruby mayers etc to the list and you realise the representation of muslim heroines will come to exactly in the ratio of population
not only that. make the list a little longer (of both male and female actors) and it will also adequately represent the populations with 2-3% like sikhs and Christians and an even minicule ones like jews, also fairly accurately. the names of john abarham, dharmendra, nadira, sunny deol etc prove this point.
so there is no deliberate attempt by any one community to ‘dominate’ bollywood. its just ‘randomely’ that at various points in time, one community or the other seems to be over represented, which is corrected over a period of time.
and if at all a concious/subconcious bias in bollywood its on the basis of cast/class. try explaining the exteremly low representation of 60% dalits and OBCs in the industry. (you can read a detailed post on this here - http://www.naachgaana.com/2012/06/30/castiesm-in-bollywood-on-and-off-screen/ )