Even before Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. soldiers, his brand of anti-modern, anti-pleasure Islam was under attack by Bollywood, India's pop culture juggernaut that boasts a global audience of 3 billion people.
As Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia explains, Bollywood movies and videos appeal to young men and women in Muslim and Arab countries because they dramatize the sorts of tensions between traditional and modern ways of living. "Who should decide who one should marry – is it the parents or is it the boy and girls themselves?" asks the Indian-born and raised Dalmia. "In the West, in Hollywood movies, it's not even an issue. But it's a huge issue in that part of the world and all of Bollywood movies deal with that one central question."
Dalmia also notes that Muslims are among the most popular – and sexually suggestive – performers in Bollywood productions. "When you have Muslims succeeding in Bollywood as Muslims, it makes them feel, well, we don't have to give up our religion in order to be modern," observes Dalmia. "That's very, very subversive…of Islamic demands and Islamic extremism….If you can have a good time in this world…and still be religious, why do you have to strap suicide bombs to your chest and blow yourself up?"
Approximately 4.30 minutes. Produced and edited by Hawk Jensen; camera by Paul Detrick.
For further reading, check out Dalmia's article "Bollywood vs. Bin Laden" and "Look Who's Rocking the Casbah: The revolutionary implications of Arab music videos" and "In Praise of Vulgarity: How commercial culture liberates Islam – and the West," both by Charles Paul Freund.