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Religion, Religious places and Hindi films
Enkayaar, Bollywood Trade News Network
It indeed is one of the most underrated contributions of cinematic history that it has facilitated in popularizing the idols and religious practices which earlier might have been relegated to communities living in the particular area, but owing to its cinematic representations has acquired pan-Indian or a global identity.
The most prominent example of this kind is those of Sai baba at Shirdi and that of Vaishno Devi at Jammu. As a fitting tribute to the contribution of Manoj Kumar to Hindi cinema in general and popularization of the faith of Sai Baba in particular, the main road leading to the temple has now been christened in his name. But the moot point is how many of the cinema aficionados are aware about it? Or for that matter that had it not been for a Man Mohan Desai, and the famous quawali in AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY, sung by Mohammed Rafi, Sai Baba’s fame would not have traveled all over the world.
While the iconic status associated with Shirdi has been given to an extent to Manoj Kumar, no such recognition seems to have been provided to Man Mohan Desai of the comparing magnitude.
But Narender Chanchal cannot complaint about the same. The song that he rendered in AVTAAR, ''Chalo Bulawa Aaya Hai'', made him an over night celebrity associated with the Vaishno Devi temple and he still commands the respect for popularizing this place of worship.
While the portrayals of religious places have lots of sentiments associated with it, they have been dealt in a sensitive manner by the directors. As Man Mohan Desai gave Shirdi a pan-Indian presence, in the same manner the Mount Mary Church in Bandra got the same prominence through the same film AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY. Vidhu Vinod Chopra shooting MISSION KASHMIR at the time of the major controversy associated with the Hazrat Bal Dargah, brought the faith associated with this mosque to the knowledge of the general public all over India. In the same manner, had it not been for FIZA of Khalid Mohammed and the quawali that Rahman sang in the glory of Hazi Ali Dargah in Mumbai, it would not have acquired a pan-Indian reverence as it has acquired.
The beauty of grammar of cinema lies in the fact that it repackages the established notions and beliefs associated in a place or with a religious practice, and romanticizing the same provides it a huge popularity on the pan-Indian basis. No wonder, the largest secular practitioners continue to flourish in the film Industry.