Gajendra Chauhan, chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), has waded into the raging debate on whether India should ban Pakistani artistes, insisting that hiring Pakistani actors and artistes is a threat to the “economy and security” of the country .
Chauhan told Hindustan Times on Wednesday that there is no dearth of talent in India and therefore the country does not need to hire actors and singers from across the border. His comments come at a time when Indo-Pak ties are on a razor’s edge in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack and New Delhi’s retaliatory surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC in Kashmir last month.
A former president of the cine and TV artists association (CINTAA), Chauhan said hiring talent from abroad is counter productive as it leaves scores of talented Indian artistes without jobs.
“Hiring Pakistani actors and artistes is a threat to India’s economy and security,” he said. While he underlined job losses for locals as the economic threat and said: “We don’t know what information they could be sharing about India at any given time.”
The FTII chairman who has had a controversial tenure so far, said film makers who opt to work with Pakistani actors do so for economic reasons as it offers them better returns when their films are released in Pakistan. “It (Pakistan) is a business territory for them,” he said.
“If you need Pakistani actors then you should shoot in Pakistan. They (film makers) will then realise how difficult it is to get permissions to shoot in Pakistan and it will also offer them a chance to see the attitude of the Pakistani people,” he said.
Chauhan, who is best known for this role as Yudhisthir in the 1980s TV blockbuster Mahabharata, also raised the issue of foreign artistes working in India without proper paperwork.
“I had raised this issue with the government when I was in CINTAA. Most of these actors who come from abroad come on a business visa, when they should be here on an employment visa,” he told HT.
Chauhan said after the CINTAA’s intervention, the home ministry wrote to the Indian high commission in Islamabad to ensure that Pakistani actors who come for cultural activities to India should have a work permit.
Last week , the Indian motion picture producers association (IMPPA) passed a resolution banning Pakistani actors and technicians from working in India till the relations between the two nations return to normal.
Following the attack on the Uri army camp that killed 19 soldiers, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had issued an ultimatum to Pakistani actors to leave India in 48 hours and said it would not allow their films to release in India.
In retaliation to the IMPPA’s ban and the MNS’ diktat, the Pakistan electronic media regulatory authority issued an advisory asking all cable TV operators to stop airing Indian news and non news channels.
Films, television soaps and cultural exchange programmes have become casualties of the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between India and Pakistan.