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Modi has India’s film studios reeling

Indian PM Narendra Modi. Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Bollywood is under threat, says Aatish Taseer in The Atlantic. For years the billion-dollar Indian film industry has epitomised the pluralism of our country. Bollywood movies may look glitzy and garish, but they’re often pushing a political message – social justice, women’s rights, gay relationships or inter-religious marriages. Everything Indian PM Narendra Modi stands against. So he is tearing Bollywood limb from limb.

“Everybody is just shit scared and wanting to lie low,” an unnamed Bollywood worker tells Taseer. This March, tax authorities raided the home and offices of one of Bollywood’s most famous directors, Anurag Kashyap. They claimed it was to investigate tax evasion. In reality Kashyap had just tweeted critical remarks about Modi. In February the head of Amazon Prime Video in India, Aparna Purohit, faced arrest after she approved a TV show that depicted a Hindu god in an unflattering light. And they got off lightly compared to actress Rhea Chakraborty – who, after her actor boyfriend killed himself, was charged with abetting his suicide and thrown in prison.

So now Bollywood types are scrambling to rebrand, making movies in the image of Modi’s India. “It’s an exercise doomed to fail.” Or, as a director friend put it: “You’re going to get f***ed.” This government can sniff out fakes. Whether or not Bollywood will emerge with its character intact remains to be seen.

Read the full article here.