The Indian film industry is close to its one-hundredth year since inception. The main center of films is Mumbai also referred to as Bollywood. The Indian film industry rivals Hollywood and produces the most films in the world. It commands a global presence among the Indian diaspora which is spread around the globe.

A peculiarity of Indian cinema is the preponderance of Muslims in all walks of filmmaking. From direction to music and acting Muslims dominate the industry though they form only 15% of the Indian population. Right from its inception Muslim heroines have dominated Bollywood.

Muslim actresses

The yesterday stars like Madhubala, Nargis, Nimmi and Suraiya have been the heartthrobs of Hindu men. Madhubala almost made it to Hollywood but was stopped by her father. Another aspect is the shedding of conservative Muslim values like the Burkha and covering the body. One can recollect the Muslim heroine Saira Banu setting the screen ablaze in a tight swimwear in the film "April Fool".

The top stars were not confined to women but Dilip Kumar (Yusuf Khan) was the top Bollywood male hero. He was also an actor with a different dimension. This trend has continued and today the top female superstar is Katrina Kaif. She dons the bikini with aplomb and none of the Muslim conservatism is for her.

The top heroes among the males are the famous 3 Khan's, Shahrukh, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan who are the ruling superstars.

Many people have wondered how the Muslim girls in India have shed the rigidity of Islamic dress to become symbols of a woman's sex appeal. Another top actress Shaban Azmi was not averse to doing unconventional roles.

Zeenat Aman donned a bikini in "Qurbani".

Muslims dominate Bollywood

One wonders where have all the Muslim clerics gone when Katrina wears a bikini and kisses her hero on screen? this is a good sign and augers well for Islam. The Muslim actresses are also popular in the Middle East where Hindi films outscore Hollywood.

In other fields, Muslim producers and directorshave also carved a niche for themselves and the legendary Mehboob Khan remains one of the top producer-directors ever of Bollywood. In the meantime let's drink a toast to Muslim women who as film stars have enlivened the lives of millions all over the world and are the heartthrob of Hindu India