At a time when Bollywood director Karan Johar’s soon-to-be-released film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is facing a ban because of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s presence, popular Pakistani actor Shaan Shahid has urged his country’s film industry and fans to collectively focus on building a Pakistani brand of cinema.
Giving his two cents on the India-Pakistan tensions and ban on Pakistani actors in India, the 45-year old actor, known for films like Khuda Kay Liye (2007), took to Facebook on Thursday. He emphasised that his focus was always geared towards making the local entertainment industry better as opposed to boosting his own accomplishments.
“It’s a proud moment for Pakistani films and I’m honoured to be a part of them. For me the only option ever was to bring Pakistani films out of its boundaries and show the world what immense talent and scripts we have in Pakistan so I always kept my focus on building Pakistani film industry rather than building my own career,” Shahid wrote to his followers, adding he was “not trying to target anybody.”
“The film industry needs all of us right now together,” he wrote, so that “young directors, actors, writers and technicians don’t have to go look for work anywhere.”
Shahid also wrote “we need to be heard, as every Pakistani has been quiet for very long now, living behind the curtain of fear, hopelessness...”
Shahid urged his fellow industry men and women, as well as Pakistan’s elite intellectuals to step in and help to build the industry for future generations. At the same time he also took a jibe at Pakistan’s intellectual elite saying they weren’t concerned with engaging with culture unless it suited their own ends: “Let all the intellectual elite of Pakistan come to the rescue of art and culture but I guess their art is hanging on their walls as paintings of Sadequain and narrated poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz they need to collectively support and promote Pakistani films if you don’t agree with the films we make than make one. Come join us.”
He closed his post with a call for Pakistani filmmakers to create narratives countering the way Pakistan is viewed in the rest of the world by creating their own versions of superheroes and films like Zero Dark Thirty.
This was not the first instance of the actor taking a stand on India-Pakistan relations. He has time and again called out artists for working across the border, stating that they should only work for the Pakistani film industry.
In a Facebook post on October 1, Shahid lashed out at fellow Pakistani actors and actresses for not speaking up for the Pakistan army during the confrontation with India across the Line of Control.
In the post, he labelled actors who worked in the Indian film industry as ‘one film wonders’ who did not speak in favour of Pakistani troops because they ‘want to hide under the money and little fame they made from India’.