Islam and the Orientalist Vision in Padmaavat

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This essay argues that Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 2018 Bollywood historical film Padmaavat is part of a wider media-informational atmospherics of contemporary Hindu pride and Islamophobia, drawing on advertised energies of disaffection and ethnological stereotyping around the figure of the Muslim. In the process, it constructs a "double shift" Orientalist prism of race perception to view a splendid "Aryan" Hindu past as well as a dark interval of Islamic rule in India marked by a Semitic, Turko-Arabic pathology. The film is part of an overall Hindu nationalist project of constructing a moral memory (contra history) in the era of the digital image that can not only reinvent the past, but also re-texture and re-canvas it, making purported pictures of a glorious Hindu bygone appearing as not just nove, but also tactile and sensuous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-137
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Bollywood
  • digital image
  • global Islamophobia
  • Hindutva
  • historical film
  • Orientalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Political Science and International Relations


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