The Cinema Owners’ and Exhibitors Association said on Friday they decided to not screen any movie with Pakistani artistes, directors or technicians – a response to worsening ties with the neighbouring country and an attack on army base in Kashmir by alleged Pakistani militants that killed 19 soldiers.
Ever since president of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Cine Workers Association Ameya Khopkar warned that the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Raees won’t be allowed in Maharashtra as the films feature Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan respectively, the industry was divided in factions that support and oppose the ban.
Most of the people directly affected with the warnings and threats have chosen to stay silent - neither Pakistani actors nor anyone associated with Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (actors Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma) and Raees (director Rahul Dholakia and actor Shah Rukh Khan) have stood up against the MNS.
But Ae Dil Hai Mushkil director Karan Johar has spoken up. “If this was truly a solution, I would take it. I believe there are larger forces that need to come together to sort this situation out and it cannot involve banning talent or art. I understand the anger of our times, I understand the anguish of our times,” Karan Johar told NDTV.
“If my film is targeted because of this, it will make me exceptionally sad because my intent was always to put out a creative product out of love and nothing else. Sometimes, you just want to fold your hands and say, ‘We are a creative industry. Please leave us alone. We make movies, we spread love,’” he said.
Meanwhile, reports claimed Fawad Khan has left India. “Fawad was not required here as he has finished all his work on the film. He went back to Pakistan as his wife is due to deliver their second child in September,” said a source from Johar’s production house, not wishing to be named. Sources however reveal that Fawad is now planning to extend his stay in Pakistan until the situation is under control.
While it can never be stressed enough that art has no relation with terror or politics, the tense relation between India and Pakistan hasn’t helped matters at all. If we consider cutting off trade ties with Pakistan, Bollywood must be counted as any other industry.
MNS has also alleged that Indian filmmakers cast Pakistani actors in Bollywood movies but our films don’t even get an easy release in the neighbouring country and often face bans.
Bollywood, however, is divided over banning Pakistani actors. Singer Kailash Kher who performed in Pakistan in 2012, has said, “Banning or sending artistes back to Pakistan won’t serve any purpose, unless they are provoking any unpleasant emotions. Nobody belonging to the field of art is spreading hatred. People in Pakistan are equally kind, art-loving and full of humanity. It’s the uneducated lot, who can be easily influenced, that becomes the trouble.”
TV actor Rahul Mahajan, on the other hand, tweeted, “Say NO to all the artists who supports Pakistani artists.”
Say NO to all the artists who supports Pakistani artists #SayNoToPakArtists— Rahul Mahajan (@TheRahulMahajan) September 23, 2016
While India is justifiably angry over the attack in Uri, banning Pakistani actors is unlikely to force Islamabad see reason.