The Indian film Beast, due to be released tomorrow, has been banned in Kuwait and Qatar after government disapproval of the film's reportedly stereotyped depiction of Muslims as terrorists and a few dialogues against Pakistan.
The Tamil-language film, described as an action-comedy starring Thalapathy Vijay and Pooja Hegde, features Vijay as a government intelligence agent who is stuck in a mall with terrorists. It has also been condemned by India's Tamil Nadu Muslim League (TNML), which has demanded that the film should not be released in Tamil Nadu state.
According to the Times of India, while the ban in Kuwait may not have a significant impact on the movie's box office, the ban in Qatar may affect its takings in the Gulf as a whole, as it is the second-largest audience for Indian cinema.
Indians also make up the largest number of expat workers in Qatar, accounting for around 25 per cent of the population. The Gulf Cooperation Council is the top overseas market for Indian movies, making up around 20 to 35 per cent of the total overseas box office. Beast has reportedly been cleared for release in other Gulf countries but has been censored in Saudi Arabia.
Recent Tamil movie #FIR was banned in both the countries too..
— Ramesh Bala (@rameshlaus) April 9, 2022
On Saturday, trade analyst Ramesh Bala confirmed the news on Twitter and mentioned that the recent Tamil movie Fir was banned in Kuwait for similar reasons. He told DNA India that the government is not happy with the terrorist group's portrayal.
"In both movies, FIR and Beast, the main villain and his gang happen to be from an Islamic terrorist gang, and these films also touch upon the topic of [extremist groups like] Al-Qaeda, ISIS… so this is the understanding from these two countries," he explained. "We can't exactly tell the likes of these countries, but overall it seems like they are unhappy with the terrorism angle, and it conflicts with their sentiments."
The leader of TNML, V M S Mustafa, said that, "The film industry has always created an impression that Muslims are terrorists, as is often the case in Tamil films. We see many social organisations strongly opposing when a film mentions their caste identity or has names of caste leaders as film characters.
"It has been reported that the Beast movie features Islamists as extremists. Islamists currently observe fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. In this context, a problem will arise if Vijay's Beast movie, which portrays Islamists as extremists, is released. Therefore, on behalf of the Tamil Nadu Muslim League, I urge Home Secretary S K Prabhakar to ban the release of the film Beast."