Aman. Everyone wants peace in the world. Everyone is hoping that with peace, India and Pakistan can put an end to the recent events that have taken place in Kashmir. 19 jawans were killed and several were injured when four militants attacked an Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri. 11 days later, the Indian Army announced that it had conducted ‘surgical strikes’ against suspected militants in Kashmir. Somehow, all the tension and aggression has led to the banning of all Pakistani talent currently working in India, until there is normalcy and a step towards ending strained relations. I find it incomprehensible, that political figures and individuals from the film fraternity somehow believe that preventing Pakistani artistes from working, will end this ongoing dispute which began after the partition of India in 1947. Three wars have been fought over Kashmir since and still there is no answer. There was perhaps some light back in December 2015 when both nations agreed to resume high-level peace talks. These hopes have now been hit and is a clear setback.
How will banning actors who wish to make a living and make a contribution to arts, have an impact on resolving the tension between the two countries? In my opinion, there will be no impact. I remember that the Hindi film industry from 2004-2005 through awards shows and movies like Veer Zaara, were using cinema as a way of bringing the two countries together and offering an olive branch almost. Here was Lollywood and Bollywood joining hands via the medium of cinema – quite refreshing and progressive. Why should it be that the same industry shun individuals who only wish to do their job? Nothing more, nothing less. Very rarely do I agree with the opinions and actions of Bollywood actor Salman Khan, but I found myself nodding in agreement when he made his views clear a few days ago:
“Are these artistes terrorists? They come here on a visa, who gives them that visa? Our government gives them visas.”
How is it that fellow colleague Shahrukh Khan, can dance with the likes of Pakistani artistes Reema Khan and Humayun Saaed on stage back in 2005 to promote peace, but not speak up on the issue, just as Salman Khan did? Bear in mind, Shahrukh Khan has a movie releasing in January 2017 with Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, who has been receiving strong criticism for not condemning the attacks. You would have thought there would be some sort of support, no? The silence of Pakistani talent like Fawad Khan and Mawra Hocane is hurting Indians across the country. For people like veteran actress Hema Malini, singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya and Shiv Sena activists, why should Hindustan feed them? Why allow them to work on their soil when they will not express sadness on the death of jawans who have left behind families in mourning?
The silence has been evident and is questionable. With social media being used by most celebrities, why have artistes from Pakistan not spoken up? Terrorist attacks have taken place in various parts of the world in recent times and condolences given on Twitter. Yet somehow, this has been evaded when it has come to India. Some open letters have been written now by the artistes but perhaps a little late. I do think they have no choice however – it’s a catch-22 situation and they are stuck in the middle. Naa iss par ke na uss par ke (nor this side of the river, nor the other side). Better to keep their mouth shut and remain loyal to their country. It’s an extremely sensitive situation for these individuals.
It’s a sad situation to be in when politics comes into play. We are talking about the loss of lives. However, we’re also talking about preventing food being put on the table for others. As such, stopping talent will not end terrorism. If the Hindi film industry has been doing their best to bring peace between two nations through entertainment, let them do that. Let talent go where it is destined. Let conflict not get in between. Let it be remembered that regardless of where people stand, families of those soldiers who passed away are suffering the most. As Amul’s satirical ad conveys, let us look forward and not go back.