Director Kabir Khan has said that he finds it ‘problematic and disturbing’ to watch films that demonise the Mughals because they’re made ‘just to go with the popular narrative’ and aren’t based on ‘historical evidence’.
In a recent interview, Kabir Khan — the director of films such as Bajrangi Bhaijaan and New York — said that he cannot respect films that demonise the Mughals, whom he described as the ‘original nation-builders’.
He told Bollywood Hungama, “I find it hugely problematic and disturbing, because what really makes me upset is that it’s being done just to go with the popular narrative. I can understand when a filmmaker has researched something and a filmmaker wants to make a point… Of course, there can be different viewpoints. If you want to demonise the Mughals, please base it on some research and make us understand why; why they were the villains that you think they were. Because if you do some research and read history, it’s very tough to understand why they have to be villainised. I think they were the original nation-builders, and to write them off and say they murdered people… But what are you basing it on? Please point out the historical evidence. Please have an open debate, just don’t go with the narrative that you think will be popular.”
He added, “It’s the easiest thing today, demonising the Mughals and various other Muslim rulers that India had at different points in its history. Trying to fit them into preconceived stereotypes, it is distressing. I cannot respect those films, unfortunately. That’s my personal opinion, of course, I can’t speak for larger audiences, but I definitely get upset by those kind of portrayals.”
In recent years, the historical accuracy of several period films such as Padmaavat, Panipat, and Tanhaji has been cast in doubt. Actor Saif Ali Khan, who starred in Tanhaji, even admitted that it misrepresented facts. He told Film Companion in an interview, ““For some reason I didn’t take a stand… maybe next time I would. I was very excited to play the role because it’s a delicious role. But when people say this is history; I don’t think this is history. I am quite aware of what the history was.”
This week will see the release of The Empire, a large-scale streaming show that tells the story of Mughal emperor Babur. Kabir Khan’s next film is the sports drama 83, which has been delayed by over a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.