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Support, criticism for MNS

india Updated: Jan 16, 2009 01:20 IST
Janaki Viswanathan

A day after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists stormed the sets of a television show where a Pakistani comedian was performing, a source from the channel claimed Shakeel Siddique wasn’t shooting for the show at all.

“He had come to meet everyone and to get his dues cleared,” the source claimed. The MNS activists had on Wednesday barged into a studio where Sony TV’s Comedy Circus, Chinchpokli to China was being shot to protest the presence of Shakeel, who used to co-host the show.

“The government hasn’t imposed a ban on Pakistani artistes nor have they been discouraged from entering Indian television or films. Who is the MNS to do it? .. It wasn’t an artiste who was responsible for the 26/11 terror attacks,” a senior official from the industry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

But not all agree.

Singer and reality show judge Abhijeet Bhattacharya said he was happy with the move, provided the MNS remained firm on it and not reduce it to a political stunt.

Bhattacharya, in the past, too, has spoken against Pakistani artistes performing for television and films in India. “We were told that all Pakistani artistes have left. And then we realise that Siddiqui is still around. This is shameful. Their being here has nothing to do with culture, it’s only money,” Bhattacharya said.

In terms of television, Pakistan has been represented the most on Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009. It hosted six singers from across the border. All but Imran Abbas were eliminated and returned home. Abbas, too, left soon after the terror attacks.

“He (Abbas) called up his coordinator from the airport to tell him he was leaving. After reaching Lahore, he had a change of heart. The channel convinced him to return, but visa and tickets became an issue and he couldn’t return. He wasn’t evicted nor voted out… he chose to leave,” a source said.