Bollywood producers have never really come across as the most sensitive people on the planet, but things have surely escalated in the past year. After the blockbuster success of Aditya Dhar’s Uri, it has suddenly prompted Bollywood to register titles around the armed forces, wars, human tragedies and now even… Article 370. After the Pulwama attack in February, Bollywood’s first response wasn’t to mourn the loss of lives, but to register titles like Pulwama, Pulwama Attacks. It’s not hard to guess what they did when the Modi govt announced its ‘Surgical Strikes 2.0’ in Balakot, a tense time which ended with the return of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.
Bollywood reacted in a familiar way, once Amit Shah announced the dilution of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gave special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. While the rest of the country was divided about move, Bollywood producers were busy registering titles like Article 370, Kashmir Hamara Hai, Dhara 35A. There’s no rock-bottom.
Hence, we thought about digging up all the tragedies that Bollywood had failed to cash in on.
1. Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Even though this tragedy has been given the cursory glance in Mahesh Mathai’s Bhopal Express and Ravi Kumar’s Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, mainstream Bollywood hasn’t quite gone deep into the tragedy. If it manages an affecting investigative show like HBO’s Chernobyl, then there’s money to be made.
2. Operation Blue Star
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s audacious military operation, eventually leading to her assassination by her own bodyguards, became the primary reason behind the Hindu-Sikh riots of 1984. Also, prompting the Khalistan movement to boil over. Even though there have been films that have mentioned the riots in passing, we’ve not seen anything on the infamous operation. Even better if it’s made by Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri, his choice of actor to play Indira Gandhi will be interesting.
3. Uphaar Cinema Fire
A fire broke out in the suburban Delhi theatre during a 3-6pm show of Border in 1997, and it killed 59 people (mostly because of suffocation) and injured an estimated 103 people because of the resulting stampede. Considered one of the worst fire tragedies to be reported in India, Bollywood could surely make some cash out of this with an insincere film that exonerates the Ansal brothers. +10 crore if the title has a pun on fire.
4. Parliament Attack, 2001
The 2001 Parliament Attack is one of the most high-profile cases in this list, that hasn’t even seen a stray mention in Hindi movies. How hasn’t Bollywood already made a film on this, starring Akshay Kumar or Ajay Devgn? Who, for the record, will obviously make a slow-motion entry to save the day. One can hear the cash registers ringing already.
5. Akshardham Attack, 2002
Even though this was touched upon in the glorious PM Narendra Modi biopic starring Vivek Anand Oberoi (where Modiji stands outside the site of attack all night, living up to his reputation of a legend), Bollywood seems to have missed an opportunity here. One can already envision John Abraham taking on his kohl-eyed enemy in a hand-to-hand combat inside the temple’s premises.
6. Dadri Lynching
As the establishment goes around banning screenings of documentaries investigating the truth about Gau Rakshaks and the widespread lynchings (Anand Patwardhan’s Vivek and a lesser-known, hard-hitting documentary everyone forgot to watch called Lynch Nation), Bollywood could probably make a film around Mohammed Akhlaq’s shocking lynching. Something that was carried out on a ‘suspicion’ of him consuming beef and/or slaughtering cattle. Maybe, the mob can be white-washed in the Bollywood version a la Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju.
7. Elphinstone bridge collapse
One of the worst tragedies to have rocked the city of Mumbai, killed a reported 23 people and injured 39 others in the ensuing stampede. There’s potential for Bollywood to look into this, not in the empathetic way of Nishikant Kamat’s Mumbai Meri Jaan. But more like Ram Gopal Varma’s movie on the 26/11 Attacks.
8. Haryana Riots – Guru Ram Rahim Singh arrest
The arrest of self-professed godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh led to riots around Haryana that killed a reported 41 people (most of them the godman’s supporters). Arrested after being convicted of rape, Singh’s supporters congregated in reportedly nine spots across Haryana, from which the police recovered 2500 wooden sticks, some sharp-edged weapons and 2.5 litres of petrol. Fear and paranoia around the arrest of a godman as his supporters brave bullets from the law enforcement – it’s a story waiting to be lapped up by Bollywood.
Those of you who couldn’t register any titles, don’t worry. There’s time for you to be insensitive, still.