Just days ago, citizens of India were shocked by the news reports of the brutal killing of two Indian army personnel in Kashmir. The incident led to widespread outrage in India with protests taking place in major metros. Now, the repercussions of the tensions between the two countries are being felt in the art world as well.
A performance by veteran Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali in Mumbai has been called off as a result. The maestro was scheduled to perform along with his son, Aamir Ali, for a charity concert at Sion’s Shanmukhananda Hall on February 8. The concert, titled Ek Ehsaas, was meant to be a tribute to Jagjit Singh and in aid of an NGO, Parineet, which helps street children recieve midday meals. Now, the organisers have roped in Bhupinder and Mitali Singh and Ronu Majumdar as replacements. Randhir Ranjan Roy of Panache Media, which is managing the event, says, “My legal team has had numerous discussions with the authorities over Ghulam Ali’s show. Public officials advised us against getting Ali for the show, as his appearance may create law and order problems.”
Recently, Pakistani players from Hockey India League were also forced to pack their bags after threats from political parties. Ali had last performed in Pune in 2012. Adds Roy, “Last year, during our Pune show, the MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) had threatened us. We had to ask for police protection to proceed with the show. This time around, the issue is larger and we didn’t want to take a risk.”
Ali, who doesn’t carry a cell phone, is currently touring and could not be reached for a comment. However, his son Aamir says, “This was a very important concert for us. Music is a symbol of love and friendship and that’s what it promotes. We artistes perform for peace but we suffer because of politics. Such things have become very common nowadays, whether it is about Pakistani artistes performing in India or vice versa.”