By M Reyaz
The new ad by Tourism Dept of West Bengal Government already crossed over 5.7 lakhs views in two days as it plays of the Nostalgia of Bengali Bhadralok. Most Bongs are sharing it with attributes like “excellent”,”beautiful”, etc.
As I saw the video for the first time, I too loved the packaging, the way it has been shot, visuals, background score, etc. But as I finished, something struck me hard. I saw it again after few minutes and I am left disappointed once again.
The whole video does not have a single Shot to establish the Muslim connection, except few shots of the folk “Baul” (a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition in Bengal that are a very heterogeneous group, with many sects, but their membership mainly consists of Vaishnava Hindus and Sufi Muslims).
From Murshidabad Jagat Seth’s House features, but not Hazarduari Palace! And in the last scene, tram is shown going towards Kidderpore (where I live). No single visual of any mosque or any Dargah or any visible Muslim man or woman in the whole video!
Yes, of course, to maintain the farce of secularism, Shahruk Khan is the brand Ambassador of Bengal Tourism who features in the last shot of the video, but one Sandy Mukharjee writes on Fb page of the Tourism Dept: “Nice, but why did we need Sharukh Khan at the end ? Could have been any other actors who are from Bengal ( not specifically a Bengali)…why on earth is he the ambassador of Bengal ?? 🤔, except for KKR, what is his connection to Bengal?? Wondering”
I wrote in my article on Zulfiqar (a Bengali film) few months ago: “Muslim prayers, Muharram mourning or children studying in maktab will remain alien to the bhadralok’s imagination of Kolkata even though it has existed in this land for centuries. And in the their imagination, this can never also be the land of Furfura Sharif, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, S Wajid Ali; but only of Tagore and Puja!”
Muslims in India are accused of not connecting enough to the land and to have their loyalty elsewhere; well the majority community too need to accept Muslims – in this case Bengali Muslims, overwhelming majority of whom are converted – as part of the same land!
(Author is Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Aliah University, Kolkata. This is taken from Facebook Post with author’s permission)