India was terrorised by a bunch of jihadis on 26/11/2008, a day which has ever since become a watershed in the history of India’s long fight against Pakistan sponsored terrorism. The attacks which shook Mumbai, the economic capital of India, not only made us realise the importance of strengthening our security apparatus but also served as a wake-up call for all of us, particularly the Government machinery. Some of the scenes from the video footage are still fresh in our memories and will perhaps continue to remain so because of the ghastly nature of the attacks. Mumbai was under siege and so was the rest of the country. 26/11 has elicited a lot of response from various sections of the intelligentsia, and over the years many books and articles have appeared which deal with the terrorist attacks that took place on that fateful day. Many filmmakers have also dealt with this theme in their attempt to showcase what can definitely be referred to as one of the most gruesome terror attacks on Indian soil.
Lesson on Secularism, Not on Terrorism
With the OTT platform gaining ground in the country from urban to rural areas, filmmakers have been focussing on releasing their works through this medium, and two web series made on the 26/11 incident are particularly engaging—State of Siege: 26/11 which was released on Zee 5 in March 2020 and the recent offering of Amazon Prime, Mumbai Diaries 26/11. While both the series deal with the terrorist attacks which occurred on 26/11, Mumbai Diaries 26/11 portrays the hardships of the frontline workers – doctors, nurses, ward boys, security guards, police personal, journalists, among others – who stood as a shield between the jihadis and the people whom they were committed to kill. The Mohit Raina and Konkona Sen Sharma starrer has some power-packed performances with Raina perhaps at his best. The series is gripping enough for a binge watch session on Saturday night, but what separates it from State of Siege: 26/11 is the overwhelmingly irrational secular narrative which runs through the series. In fact, the dominant discourse of forced secularism is so pervasive that Mumbai Diaries comes across more as a lesson on secularism and less on terrorism.
Glorification of Muslim Doc
The glorification of a soft-hearted Muslim doctor, Ahaan Mirza, as the epitome of virtue; the spiel on why Islam is a religion of peace; the intolerant attitude of the Maharashtrian male nurse, Samarth; and the ramblings of Mansi Hirani, played by Shreya Dhanwanthary, in the last episode on why the 26/11 attacks were not jihad; all point to a well-crafted scheme of depicting the nauseous terror attacks that shook the foundations of India’s democracy as a one-off incident which should not be seen through the prism of religion.
On one hand, is Ahaan Mirza, played by Satyajeet Dubey, a chicken-hearted Muslim junior resident doctor who is tolerant, kind and merciful, and on his very first day at work, is faced with the mighty challenge of saving the life of a nurse who is injured badly at the CST shootout. Mirza is so emotional that he even enters the morgue and offers prayers for the deliverance of the nurses’ soul. On the other hand, is the Maharashtrian male nurse, Samarth, who is suspicious of Mirza’s actions. Samarth is unkind, intolerant, and overtly communal. He even roughs up the poor Muslim doctor on a couple of occasions. The bad Hindu, good Muslim narrative is pushed so hard that it becomes unmissable. The character assassination of the Hindu Samarth does not stop there. He is shown to be uttering some expletives against the jihadis who went on rampage at the government hospital in Mumbai, in this case the Bombay General Hospital. Beeji, the grand old lady admitted to the hospital under the social care scheme, makes Samarth understand that Islam is not bad, in fact it is a religion of peace and tolerance. The pontificating Beeji then goes on to reminiscence her experience of 1984 riots in Delhi in which she and her family had to bear the brunt of Hindu mob violence. Samarth’s communal soul is finally quietened and he makes peace with Ahaan Mirza and realizes that Islam is indeed a religion of peace.
Immature Interpretation of Jihad
Mansi Hirani, the brave journalist who can go an extra mile or two to get at the heart of the story, is seen soliloquising in the last episode of the series—“Jihad toh insaan ke antarman ki ladayi hoti hai na jo woh apni khamiyon se ladta hai. Humari aankhon ke samne jo hua woh jihad nahi ho sakta”. The journalist gives her final verdict in what can be called the most immature interpretation of the term “jihad” which has very clearly been defined in the Quran as an armed struggle against the infidels. The demarcation between Jihad-e-Akbar (greater jihad against the impurities of the self) and Jihad-e-Asghar (exertion of power through violence) holds no meaning in the context of an all-out war which has repeatedly been perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists not only in India but also globally. The inane attempt to downplay the injunctions of Islam which not only promote violence and bloodshed but also direct every true Muslim to fight against the infidels and subdue them comes across as a deliberate endeavour.
26/11 was a jihad and it was engineered and executed by jihadis from Pakistan. The makers of Mumbai Diaries could’ve done a better job by showing the attacks exactly as what they were, instead of trying to justify jihad and shove the same old sad secular story down everyone’s throat
Bundle of Lies
Mumbai Diaries 26/11 could have been a tolerable series but for the lies and abject rejection of reality which has made it a laughable attempt at showcasing the 26/11 attacks. The brilliant performances and stories of unity and resilience could have made for an enjoyable treat but for the exasperatingly awful attempt at rationalising jihad. When the perpetrators of the attacks had no qualms in admitting that they were indulging in jihad, what can possibly justify the “this was not jihad” dialogue. If anything, 26/11 was a jihad and it was engineered and executed by jihadis from Pakistan. The makers of Mumbai Diaries could’ve done a better job by showing the attacks exactly as what they were, instead of trying to justify jihad and shove the same old sad secular story down everyone’s throat.
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Maharishi Valmiki was both a Sanskrit and Tamil scholar. He was the first poet of Sanskrit literature. Valmiki Jayanti commemorates the birth anniversary of Maharishi Valmiki, the great author and sage. Maharishi Valmiki is the author of the great Hindu epic Ramayana. The Ramayana, which tells the story of Sri Ram, was written in Sanskrit and contains 24,000 verses divided into seven "Kaand" (cantos). In honour of this revered saint, Valmiki Jayanti is observed. The c ...