Actually this blog was supposed to be written just after MNS asked Pakistani actors to leave India within 48 hours of their notice being served last week. Generally, any person with a stable mindset would not support what overall MNS or Shiv Sena for that matter thinks or believes in or acts on. But this time around despite our main stream media’s hard try, there are very few voices came in open to go against what MNS wanted to dictate. The reason was simple, Uri attack was just happened and this time the entire nation was saying in one voice (not for the first time, though) that enough is enough and declare Pakistan a terrorist nation. So the logic was simple, if a major part of a nation’s citizens feel that a particular nation is creating a problem for them and their country as a whole, time and again then that nation’s entertainers should not be entertained either in that nation, Period!
Even in the past, especially after 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai, whenever such feeling has arisen some wiser than the rest had only one argument that the “art has no boundary”. Certainly art has no boundaries else our artists wouldn’t have worked in Hollywood movies or till yesterday, Pakistani actors wouldn’t have worked in Indian movies either. Art certainly doesn’t have a boundary, but a nation certainly has one. A responsible and mature nation like India has a boundary of tolerance and that boundary was breached thousand times ever since Bangladesh was created in the last century and Pakistan decided to open a new front of pseudo-war as it was then and probably still is not able to go for a full fledge war against India. Our artists too have shown in past that art has no boundary by condemning attacks on Paris, Istanbul, Dhaka and Brussels on every available social media platform with the strongest possible feelings and words.
It is reported that when asked to condemn the Uri attack Fawad Khan simply refused to entertain it. He is the same guy who also reportedly said after reaching his country that he is always a Pakistani first. This proves that art has no boundary, but a nation has. In the past also artists from Pakistan like Ghulam Ali, Nusrat and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan when asked about tension between theirs and our country, they were ready to give an advice or two on how the music or art can help to reduce the tension between the two countries and can help to bring people of two nations together because they are one or the same, but if you have noticed carefully neither of them have hardly uttered a word about frequent terror attacks on India. We may not expect them to condemn them, but they didn’t even support them bluntly so that they can happily come here and earn in US dollars and go back home with a smile.
This attitude only proves one thing that it doesn’t matter how popular an actor or an artist is in another country, he or she should always be standing with his or her country’s government policy no matter how harmful that is for the country he or she works in. This trend is less visible, though in Hollywood where actors have condemned their government’s policies on Iraq and Afghanistan. In India it totally reverses, as it is still in our blood to play like nice and caring ‘bade bhaiyya’ attitude with Pakistani actors and artists. Our film fraternity believes in what they show on screen probably, I mean the fantasy where one brother is so good that he always forgives even deadliest sins of his bad brother just because he is a hero or want to present himself like a hero. But in the real world, it is not like that and it shouldn’t be like that.
I don’t even believe in that argument either, that why Pakistani actors should be cast in the first place as our country has full of talent. Being a fiction writer myself, I have a first-hand experience that whenever I write about a particular character in my story there is a certain face with a certain style of walking, standing, sitting and talking repeatedly visits my mind. Same goes with a Bollywood director if he sees one of his characters in a certain actor, he would definitely try to catch that actor for his movie and whether he is a Pakistani, Palestinian or Kenyan it doesn’t matter for him. If this was not the case then why Kabir Bedi, Amrish Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor to the latest inserts like Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone would have been cast in the roles they played in different Hollywood movies? So casting a Pakistani actor over an Indian is logical and nothing wrong with it.
But, then nation’s interest is always first. Just like Fawad Khan proved that once the director says ‘cut’ or a movie shoot is over, he is a citizen of Pakistan first and not the one which his Indian counterparts are arguing these days. What Salman said yesterday was right, but it has very little logic to support at this moment of time. Actors are not terrorists; yes and Indian government only gives them a visa, but at the end of the day they from the nation whose trained terrorists have killed your 20 jawans just 11 days back and he refused to utter a word about it even. One thing Salman and the likes should ask themselves that if god forbid, Pakistan plans an attack on India, will it be limited to border? Or to Delhi, where our decision makers are living?
Will Pakistan ever think that let’s not attack Mumbai because it has Bollywood where our artists earned part of their breads? As a matter of fact Mumbai could be their first target, as it is a business hub of India and a successful attack will dent the Indian economy in a very big way. Salman should be made to understand by his learned father (again!!) that the 26/11 terror attacks were carried out with the same logic and that too by the Pakistan army and intelligence. So when the question comes about nation to nation, no matter whether someone is an artist or a businessman or a sportsman, he should rally with the rest of the nation and that is what lacking right now in Bollywood, which is sad enough for many ardent Bollywood fans like myself.
It doesn’t matter how much we criticize BCCI or IPL but remember that in the 2010 IPL auction when none of the franchise picked up any Pakistani player despite they were present in the auction list. Whether it was a pre-planned move or it just happened naturally we don’t know, but that shown the anger Indians had against the Pakistan as a nation after 26/11 attacks happened just one and half year back. 26/11 happened in 2008, Pakistani players withdrew from 2009 IPL fearing a backlash, but in 2010 auction all the franchises, probably on the direction of the BCCI didn’t bid for a single Pakistani player. In general BCCI’s policy for Pakistan has remained steady. Only if the situation is near normal on front, then only they agree with a bilateral series with Pakistan else only in the ICC events where an India vs. Pakistan match is possible. Even now the president of BCCI Anurag Thakur has categorically said that there is no possibility of Indian team playing against Pakistan in the near future and as per recent news he has even requested ICC not to group India and Pakistan in a same pool in future ICC events as well.
So the argument that whether Bollywood as an institution, stands firm on the issue of Pakistan just like BCCI? The answer right now is no. Voices like Salman Khan, Karan Johar or now Rahul Aggarwal will always refuse to understand the ground reality and people’s sentiments. This is not new when our actors and producers have shown this attitude during different situations concerning our nation, so no one should feel surprised. So is there any solution? The solution is simple but seems to be unachievable. Only if Bollywood decides not to cast any Pakistani actor or allow any Pakistani artist in any which way possible till the majority of Indian sentiment speaks differently, just like BCCI, the exercise of forced or self-banning or protesting against a movie featuring a Pakistani actor is just futile.
Right now, though, after the surgical strikes on POK terror camps happened the other night, our Bollywood producers might have been forced to rethink on their stand, not because they want to change their wish and showing camaraderie with the rest of the nation, but because growing sentiments of people in India against Pakistan as a nation which may go against their financial and personal image building interests. Once the tension goes down on the border a bit we may again see Fawad Khan and the likes roaming around Mumbai film studios.
Love can’t be one-sided
– Subhash Chandra on banning Pakistani shows on Zindagi channel.