The DNA of Bollywood, India’s mainstream Hindi cinema, is to peddle fiction, fantasy and dreams. So, when Bollywood dabbles in history, politics and religion, it is a given that the result will be stamped with its DNA—fiction, fantasy and dreams. Bollywood is entirely entitled to its fictions, but because of its tremendous impact, when it makes ‘historical’ or ‘political’ films with a right-wing, nationalist agenda, the results can be inflammatory and explosive, with the potential to communally divide and destroy the nation.
It is challenging to level charges of inauthenticity to a fundamentally fiction medium. Would you ask Shakespeare, was Romeo a Montague and Juliet really a Capulet? If you want authenticity, go read a history book, or watch a documentary. But documentaries can be fiction too, and docu-fiction is an increasingly popular, legitimate artistic genre.