Official data shows Muslim population is on the rise, but a direct approach by writer Raaj Shaandlyaa at addressing the issue would have ruffled socio-political feathers.
By Mayur Lookhar
A good story teller is one who knows the art of subtlety. This skill is vital especially while trying to draw one’s attention to a sensitive subject that can have socio-political ramifications. Religion has been a much debated issue since the Bharatiya Janata Party came into power in 2014 and was unanimously voted back in 2019.
Today as Arab nations have condemned India over blasphemous comment on their Prophet by two BJP members – Nupur Sharma, Naveen Jindal – it’s once again triggered a debate on the attitude of Hindu-majority India towards the Muslim minority. That is a political debate that we are not really qualified to get into. What arouses our interest though is the issues that the film Janhit Mein Jaari  addresses – birth control, women safety.
When it it comes to population, India is the second largest populated country in the world with nearly 140 crore [1.4 billion] people [Source: Ministry of Statistical and Programme Implementation, UN (World Population Prospects (2019)]. While the Census for the period 2011-2020 are still to be released, but the earlier Census [2001-2011] data shows how India’s population has been rising steadily.
While they are called minority, but with over 20 crore people, the Muslim population has risen over the decades. As per Census 2001-2011, the Muslim population rose by 24.7 percent, as compared to the 16.7 % growth in majority Hindu population.
While the Muslim population has declined vis-a-vis the preceding Census period, If you see the above chart, it has often surpassed the growth of Hindus and other communities in each Census period since 1951.
India’s economy has been pushed back in the last 8 years, it is only given rise to inflation, unemployment. Naturally, it would make sense to not overpopulate. Also, for its huge population, India only accounts for 2.4 % of the world surface.
Now official government data shows who leads in the population charts. Writer Raaj Shandilyaa’s Janhit Mein Jaari  has released in theatres across the country today [10 June]. We saw the film early this week. Despite its noble message, we found it lacking in certain creativity. But our mind was drawn to one character in the film that is set in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh.
Official data shows that the small town is largely inhabited by Hindu population with Muslim population amounting to just over 12,000 people in the period 2001-2011. Given that the Muslim population is rising steadily over other communities across India, perhaps it would have been ideal for Shaandilyaa to place his film in a Muslim setting. Who knows perhaps Shaandilyaa may have toyed with the idea, but given the current socio-political scenario, such a setting would have earned the wrath of fringe religious groups, political outfits and left-leaning intellectuals, media. It would have been called a propaganda film, pro Hindutva, and anti-Muslim.
Shaandilyaa does admire PM Narendra Modi, but he is smart enough to not let his film be labelled any propaganda. So, he sets his film in Hindu majority Chanderi. He is also smart in having a lone Muslim character.
Maqdoom [Shaan Yadav] is a relatively quite character in the film. He works for Devi [Paritosh Tripathi], who aspires to marry Manu but never had the courage to bare his heart. The only noteworthy comment we recall from Maqdoom is when he tells his boss to not pull the eve-teaser’s hair as he might pull his wig in retaliation. Maqdoom is also seen carrying his boss’ deceased uncle during the bland humour funeral scene.
At first, the character seemed a total misfit. He didn’t have much dialogues, no purpose save being a yes man to Devi and simply tagging alone wherever his boss went. He doesn’t drink, but he is all fine to lend a shoulder to cry upon for his heart broken, inebriated boss. He wears a skull-cap, Pathani. Maqdoom comes across as a humble Muslim devout. What does he bring to this story where he has no direct connection with the principal characters? Quite frankly nothing. It’s only after the film was over that we realized the relevance of having Maqdoom in the film.
Without pointing fingers or saying anything, Shaandilyaa has subtly served his Janhit Mein Jaari [issued issued in public interest] notice to the Muslim community. Maqdoom’s presence is vital to the larger birth control cause. Apart from Maqdoom, director Jai Basantu Singh has also taken shot of mosques in the backdrop. There is no doubt that the vast majority Hindu population needs to lead in population control. By setting his film in an overwhelmingly Hindu dominated Chanderi, Shaandilyaa has set the right precedent. And with Muslims accounting for the second largest community in the country and leading the population charts in every Census, it will need to take the baton from its majority Hindu community in carrying the population control message.
We hope this article is not perceived as any propaganda, or against any community. In a pandemic world, population control is of utmost importance for the general well being of our people today and our future generations. We conclude the article by borrowing a hilarious social message from Panchayat franchise [web series]. “Do bacche hai kheer, do se zyada bawasir (Two kids are like a sweet, but any more than two are like hemorrhoid).