The hit film Phantom, which features a group of Indian operatives hunting down a Hafiz Saeed-like terrorist after the Mumbai attacks, has sparked angry exchanges on social media among Pakistanis who are divided on the movie. Veteran Pakistani actor Shaan Shahid, who has acted in several films with patriotic themes that indulged in India-bashing, launched an online campaign to ban actor and model Mawra Hocane after she tweeted Phantom was against terrorism.
Mawra, who has reportedly signed three Bollywood films and was recently in India for a shoot, tweeted on Saturday: "#phantom is against terrorism. A terrorist can't belong to any country. A terrorist is a terrorist."
She followed it up with three more tweets, including one that said that if Phantom "is anti-terrorism, Then yes I'm anti-terrorism, it doesn't matter which land I belong to. I'm pro-humanity & love & that's that."
As her comments generated a storm in Pakistan, Mawra deleted her tweets but by then Shaan, who has made a point of refusing offers from Indian producers and once refused to allow Bollywood tunes to be played on his TV show, launched an online campaign for Mawra to be banned.
Should we banned actress like her who is supporting anti pakistani movie?
— Shaan Shahid (@mshaanshahid) August 28, 2015
Mawra was subjected to considerable abuse following Shaan's tweet and subsequently responded with a long Facebook post in which she said that Pakistan's dignity could not be challenged by a film's content alone.
Shaan also targeted Phantom's star Saif Ali Khan in a Facebook post, claiming that Khan was hiding his "flops behind the combined hatred of Indians for Pakistan".
Other Pakistanis defended Mawra's stance, pointing out that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed was a globally designated terrorist for whom the US has offered a $10-million bounty.
Journalist Taha Siddiqui questioned whether Pakistanis were defending their country or the LeT.
Those who saw
say its not anti Pakistan. Its anti Lashkar e Taiba. So r intellechawals in Pak defending country or LeT?
— Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) August 30, 2015
Writer Nudrrat Khawaja posted that Shaan's actions were helping increase business for Phantom.
Kabir Khan & Saif Ali Khan should thank Pakistani nuts Shaan,Hamza Abbassi,Faisal Qureshi for bringing business to their flop movie #Phantom— Nudrrat Khawaja (@NudrratKhawaja) August 31, 2015
Other prominent Pakistani users of Twitter too chipped in on the debate over Phantom. (Some relevant tweets from Raza Rumi,
Same pseudo intellectuals who said #WAAR is a propaganda movie are now like why ban #Phantom in #Pakistan coz its j just a movie - The irony — Anas Mallick (@AnasMallick) August 31, 2015
Mawra Hoccaine is a brave girl, a voice of sanity in this ocean of madness. #Phantom#India#Pakistan— Karachi_Post (@Karachi_Post) August 29, 2015
Hate to say this but I agree with #MarwaHocane. Terrorists have no nation. Being anti-terrorism does not equate to being anti-Pakistani. — Basma (@HaseenaAtomBum) August 29, 2015
Earlier this month, the Lahore High Court barred the release of Phantom in response to a petition from Hafiz Saeed, who claimed the movie contains 'filthy propaganda' against him. Saeed's lawyer had contended that there was a threat to the Jamaat-ud-Dawah leader and his associates because of the film.