Eminent ghazal singer Jagjit Singh was very bitter about the fact that the Indian singers are not allowed to perform in Pakistan whereas every Pakistani singer of repute has performed in India. For example, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan regularly sings for Bollywood movies. Ghulam Ali Khan is a regular feature and I’m pretty sure, due to our sheer number, his ghazal albums make more money in India than in Pakistan. In fact, Indians are so accepting that Ghulam Ali was invited to sing in a musical festival that was held in the Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi, and instead of singing a bhajan he sang “Hungama hai kyun barpa, thodi si ji pee lee hai…”
Fawad Khanna is the latest heartthrob. Pakistani actresses have enchanted us for decades, from Salma Aga to Zeba Bakhtiar to Mahira Khan.
Recently a Pakistani author even launched a book in Mumbai despite protests.
So for Pakistani artists and intellectuals India is like second home. But is Pakistan like second home for our artists and intellectuals? For some. Only those who run Pakistani propaganda from the Indian soil. Only those are welcomed who constantly tell India that look, Pakistanis are so welcoming and so mature. Someone like Mahesh Bhatt is welcomed with open arms and Anupam Kher is denied visa even to attend a literary event. If you just want to perform in Pakistan, like any other Pakistani artist performing in India, then forget it.
Indians are more accepting, whatever is the reason. They don’t mind, or they couldn’t care less, if Indian artists are not allowed to perform in Pakistan. Forget about our artists not being allowed to perform in Pakistan, even when our soldiers die at the border due to Pakistani infiltrators some sections of our society are smugly enjoying a ghazal night of some Pakistani singer, showing the middle finger to our soldiers. After a major terror attack, a prominent Pakistani artist or writer lectures Indians on tolerance, peace and brotherhood and we listen to him or her like naughty kids looking for some guidance from an adult. So in that sense Indians are weird. We love to be told how lousy we are. You can compare this behaviour to dominatrix sex in which people derive sexual pleasure out of being dominated and out of being told what miserable pieces of shit they are while being beaten with a stick.
After the recent Pak-sponsored terror attack in Uri there has been a call to send back Pakistani artists who have been making a killing in India. How can one section of Pakistan kill our soldiers and the other section pretend as if nothing is happening and it’s business as usual? It’s like running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, figuratively speaking.
The call to go back in 48 hours is stupid. If the MNS is so patriotic its members should fight terrorism rather than chocolatish actors and actresses. MNS is just pandering to its constituency that mostly constitutes of goons and those who live off petty crimes. Besides, the country is full of traitors and the MNS never targets them.
Take for insurance that politician in Bihar who wrote on his Facebook wall that all the soldiers who died in the Uri terror attack were corrupt and they deserved to be killed by terrorists. It’s the most obnoxious statement one can make for his or her country while enjoying the protection of the same country. Has the MNS uttered even a single word against that sick minister (who should anyway have been arrested for sedition)? No.
So when people say that wrong people are being targeted they have a point and the recent call to send actors, actresses and singers back is just a kneejerk reaction, but if we want to send a message, a beginning has to be made somewhere.
The “culture knows no boundaries” is fine and good. India being a free market is also fine and good. Even love knows no boundaries and there can be love in the time of war, and these things happen. Birds and animals have no boundaries. The wind has no boundaries. You can’t tell clouds that this is India and that is Pakistan. Poetry is soothing. Bullets are not.
Culture and art are good, but cultural exchange cannot happen over the dead bodies of our people, of our soldiers.
There’s a bigger issue involved. We want to call Pakistan a terrorist state, and in fact, there’s enough proof that Pakistan is a terrorist state. Just like China, Japan and Taiwan export goods all over the world, Pakistan exports terrorism all over the world. Even its most ardent supporters can’t deny that there is a big problem with Pakistan.
Is terrorism less evil than apartheid? Almost the entire world boycotted South Africa and India had no diplomatic and cultural relations with the African country. There were no cultural exchanges between South Africa and other countries. Nobody played cricket with them. Artists were not moving to and fro. If South Africa could be treated that way for apartheid — and let’s be clear, apartheid is not as violent as terrorism, no matter how despicable it is — why can Pakistan be treated the same way?
Many Indians wanting Pakistani artists to pack their bags and go back to Pakistan should be viewed in a larger context. It will send a signal to the world that we mean business. There should be no cultural exchange, there should be no cricket matches, and their actors and singers shouldn’t be hired unless they hold Indian passports, someone like Adnan Sami. These artists shouldn’t make a living in India and then call Pakistan their home. They shouldn’t be sending Indian money to Pakistan. You may fish out the argument of Indians working in the Gulf all their lives and then coming back to India but the Gulf countries themselves don’t allow people to get citizenship. Many come back because they HAVE to come back; so that’s different.
Ideally, the rejection should come from the people and not from directors and producers who work with Pakistani artists. Why do Indians watch their movies and listen to their songs no matter how awesome they are — are we going to die if we don’t experience that awesomeness?
If movies having Pakistani actors and actresses don’t do well at the box office, everybody concerned will get the message. Filmmakers are very selfish. They know that the “Vijay” character in the movie can be Ranveer Kapoor or Fawad Khan and it doesn’t matter. When it begins to matter, suddenly it will dawn upon them that there are some things that are more important than “cultural exchanges”. They won’t work with Pakistani artists if it is unprofitable for them. All their cultural exchange and sense of inclusivity will be gone in a puff.
When Jagjit Singh complained that he was not allowed to perform in Pakistan, how many people from Pakistan stood with him? He was Ghulam Ali’s contemporary. Did Ghulam Ali ever protest in Pakistan? Did he ever say that I’m not going to sing in Pakistan unless Jagjit Singh too was allowed to sing in Pakistan? No. Did he ever force his society all the government to hold a joint Ghulam Ali-Jagjit Singh concert? No. Did he ever moved to India, lock stock and barrel because it is a much more accepting country? No. He very conveniently kept performing in both the countries.
Has any of the Pakistani artists ever publicly said that they don’t like the fact that most Indian artists are not allowed to perform in Pakistan? I’m not saying that they have to and they should be forced to say something but at least, the Indians have a right to feel bad if they don’t.
Nobody necessarily has to carry out such calls as issued by the MNS and if necessary, these artists should be given protection by the state because after all, they are our guests and we didn’t force them to come to India. They came because we were welcoming them. And to be frank it is not their fault that their government wouldn’t stop sending terrorists into our country. But someday we have to draw a line. If these people are sent back they will either be forced to accept Indian citizenship and then openly say that India is a better country than Pakistan or they will have to initiate a dialogue within their own country. At least they have to start talking about the fact that cultural exchange should be two-way. We don’t want them to make money out of India’s democracy, inclusive nature and openness and then one day lecture us about democracy, inclusive nature and openness.
Also, if you want to communicate to the rest of the world that India is really pissed, cultural and sports events should be ceased until Pakistanis learn to live like good neighbours, not like spoiled brats causing trouble all the time.