The Shiv Sena, the self-acclaimed flag-bearers of culture and nationalism, has managed to stop the visit of Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali to Mumbai where he was scheduled to perform at a concert to honour late singer Jagjit Singh.
“How can we allow Pakistani artists to perform here when our soldiers are being killed by them? We are not interested in cultural ties with such enemies,” said Akshay Bardapurkar, the general secretary of the party’s film wing Chitrapat Sena.
Dear Sena leaders, By opposing the ghazal maestro’s visit, you are robbing his Indian fans of the pleasure of listening to his royal, silken voice at a live concert. It hurts ghazal fans on various levels. To begin with, it is an insult to one of greatest living legends of the music industry to drag him in the hate-filled India vs Pakistan fight. And then, it is not everyday that fans get to listen to such great singers performing live.
When Ghulam Ali performed at Delhi’s Siri Auditorium in December 2013, it was an experience of a life time for his fans. The experience of a live concert cannot ever be compared with listening to ghazals on YouTube or the most expensive music system for that matter. And to be denied of the music because a political party believes gun-wielders and artists are one and the same is ridiculous to say the least.
When Pakistan bans a Phantom or a Haider, we go out all guns blazing against our neighbouring country questioning its ethics and arguing how art should not be dragged in diplomatic and cross-border tussles. At the same time, we also go ahead and stop great singers like Ghulam Ali from performing in our country. A film like Shahid Kapoor’s Haider or Katrina Kaif-Saif Ali Khan-starrer Phantom brand elements from Pakistan as villains. And when a Ghulam Ali concert is cancelled because people do not want ‘Pakistani’ artists performing in India, logic is even more skewed. While we can go on and on about India’s own ‘Taliban brigade’ and all the politics involved, it’s the music lovers that are at the receiving end.
The musical genius, who belongs to Sialkot in Pakistan’s west Punjab province, has been an endearing voice for ghazal fans for the past 55 years. He made a classic entry in Bollywood with the popular number, Chupke Chupke Raat Din for BR Chopra’s Nikaah (1982). His ghazals Humko Kis Ke Ghum Ne Mara, Kal Chaudavi Ki Raat Thi, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa are only some of the most loved numbers by the singer.
In a political retort to Shiv Sena’s threats, Delhi culture minister Kapil Mishra has extended an invitation to Ghulam Ali to perform in the national capital.
“Sad that #GhulamAli is not being allowed in Mumbai, I invite him to come to Delhi and do the concert. Music has no boundaries. #BanTheBan,” Mishra wrote on Twitter.
There’s little chance that is actually going to happen but as a Ghulam Ali fan in Delhi, here’s hoping it does.
A history of Sena’s threats and bans in last five years
2010: The controversial reality show Bigg Boss faced the Sena’s wrath in 2010 when its leaders asked that Pakistani contestants Veena Malik and Ali Saleem be evicted from Bigg Boss 4. The Sena’s argument? There is no dearth of celebrities in India that the organisers were bringing outsiders, and too Pakistanis!
2012: The Sena joined forces with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in 2012, seeking a ban on the participation of Pakistani artistes in Indian TV shows. Sena’s Rajya Sabha member Anil Desai also said that Asha Bhosle should not share the stage with Pakistani artistes.
2014: In 2014, Sena workers vandalised the album launch of a Sufi music band, Meekal Hasan, and protested against the Pakistani musicians.
2015: In April this year, Atif Aslam’s concert in Pune was cancelled after the Sena threatened to disrupt the event.