By Rahul Raut
After the attack by infiltrators in Uri, Kashmir that left 18 Indian military personnel dead last week, the relations between India and Pakistan has turned extremely bad and it is becoming worse day by day. And in this diplomatic crossfire between the two neighbour countries, people in the world of arts, culture and film, like always, have become the unlikely victim of hatred. The old debate of art versus culture is back online once again.
Just after few hours of Uri attack, the rightist political outfit, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), demanded a ban on all Pakistani artists working in India and issued a 48-hour ultimatum to leave the country. They also warned that films like ‘Ae Dil Hai Muskil’ and ‘Raees’ will not be allowed to release in Maharashtra as these films feature Pakistani actors (Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan respectively). “When our soldiers are being killed on the borders by Pakistan, why should we host their actors here? We warn all Pakistani actors to leave India in the next 48 hours. If they do not do so, MNS activists will give them a thrashing,” Ameya Khopkar, president of the MNS Chitrapat Karmachari Sena, had said.
Whenever there’s a major terror attack in India, political units like MNS, Shiv Sena and over-patriotic personalities like singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya, not sometimes, but usually, start the ‘kick-those-Pakistanis-out-of-India’ rants and the same stupid loud bombastic declamation is happening this time, too.
Fawad Khan who has a huge fan following among Indian women, is the softest target in this ‘pack off Pakistani actors from India’ fustian. MNS has demanded that Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Muskil’ release will see the green line only if Fawad’s portion is completely chopped off from the movie. The Pakistani heartthrob who left India on 2 July after shooting his portion in Mumbai, was planned to return in India for ADHM’s promotional activities but now those plans have been cancelled amidst growing threats and he will extend his stay in Pakistan until the situation is under control. “Also because his wife, Sadaf, is due to deliver their second child next month, he chose to remain with her,” a spokesperson for the actor said.
Bollywood divides over ban on Pakistani actors: –
The debate over whether or not Pakistani actors should be allowed to work in Hindi films, has resulted different opinions from the industry personalities. Singer Kailash Kher who performed in Pakistan in 2012 and has also performed with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and other Pakistani singers in so many countries, said, “Banning or sending artistes back to Pakistan won’t serve any purpose, unless they are provoking any unpleasant emotions. Nobody belonging to the field of art is spreading hatred. People in Pakistan are equally kind, art-loving and full of humanity. It’s the uneducated lot, who can be easily influenced, that becomes the trouble.”
While almost all A-list actors remained silent on this issue, Varun Dhawan expressed his deep regret at the death of 18 Army jawans and said if banning Pakistani actors can achieve this (stop terror), we should take this step. “The government has to say that. It (ban) has to come from the government. And if they take any steps, we will have to see what they do after that. If by banning actors, terrorism can be stopped then they should do it. That is something the government needs to decide first.”
Mahesh Bhatt said, “Why penalise an Indian producer (Karan Johar) for no fault of his? Whether Pakistani artistes should be allowed to work in Bollywood is a call for the Government of India to take. We are only entertainers and that’s our job.”
Karan Johar, in an interview to NDTV, said he understands and shares the range and anguish of people but banning Pakistani talents was not a solution to what is a complex geopolitical problem. “I understand the anger and the anguish that surround us and I empathise, my heart bleeds for the lost lives. There is nothing that can justify this terrible feeling of terror. Then you are faced in a situation such as this (asking for ban on Pakistani artistes). If this was truly a solution, then one would take it.”
Banning Pakistani actors will solve terrorism problem?
To ask Pakistani artists who come to India for better outlook, just like many Indians go to the US for better compensable jobs, to go back to their country when there’s been a terror attack on Indian soils by Pakistanis, is witless, preposterous and gratuitous. Why should innocent artists pay the price for that thing which some unknown from their country did? It’s same like Priyanka Chopra getting fired from ‘Quantico’ because Indian government upset Washington. The art should not be linked with politics and terrorism at any cost.
Banning Pakistani talents will not do anything to those actually responsible for the slaughter. The government needs to take the right step to terminate the terror activities instead of suffering guiltless artistic persons. The act of aggressive bluster might make MNS, Shiv Sena or others feel like they did something, but it does not hurt those who send their sons across the border and neither it makes the soldiers serving on the border any safer. Karan Johar put it the best way: “We are a creative industry. Please leave us alone. We make movies, we spread love. There are millions in the world, in our country who are happy with the work we do, allow us that.”