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Discordant notes across the border

They are excited about pariticipating on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007, but contestants from Pakistan are being made victims of red-tapism.

art and culture Updated: Apr 21, 2007 18:25 IST

Music is one of the things that binds India and Pakistan together. Be it the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Abida Parveen, Indians have enjoyed the melodies rendered by several Pakistani artists. Indian artists have also enthralled people across the border.

However, there is a discordant note with participants of Zee TV’s

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge

2007 facing visa problems.

The show, which begins in the first week of May, will continue for more than six months, but the participants from Pakistan have been issued only 21-day cultural-exchange visas.

“I am really excited about the contest but am worried as we can't stay here for more than three weeks. We have asked for an extension, but we don't know what is going to happen,” says Amanat Ali from Lahore, who is on his first visit to India.

Sikandar Ali Shah from Karachi feels equally peeved. “We have come down to India for a music competition. Issuing a visa for just 21 days is strange when the competition will go on for about seven months,” he says.

Junaid Sheikh, a 24-year-old student from Karachi, who is also visiting India for the first time, is putting on a brave face. “I am confident that the government will take steps to solve it as quickly as possible,” he says from Goregaon in Mumbai, where the contestants are staying.

Zee officials also feel that the problem will be sorted out.

“The musical show, which is 13 years old, is very popular among the viewers in Pakistan and West Asia. Earlier, when people from Pakistan participated in the show, the governments of both India and Pakistan have been very supportive,” says Ashish Kaul, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited.

Artists Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Ali Khan are among the judges of the show. Talks are on to have either actor-singer Aditya Narayan, the son of Udit Narayan, or singer Babul Supriyo as the host.

Wasiuddin Essendi, who hails from Karachi, is very excited about his visit to India. “My favourite actor is Juhi Chawla. During my stay in Mumbai, I hope to meet her,” he says.

First Published: Apr 21, 2007 18:18 IST