Can A Divided Bollywood Deliver Us Aman ki Asha?

Ever since the President of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Cine Workers Association Ameya Khopkar warned the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Raees in Maharashtra because the bollywood films feature Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan respectively, “the old debate of art versus politics is back online.”


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To ask Pakistani troupers to return to their country because of the alleged terrorist attacks on the Indian soil by the Pakistanis is something stupid but also comprehensible. The citizens demand quick vengeance; the artists from films, television and culture are the softest.

The MNS, sensing the public pulse, gave the Pakistani actors and the artists a 48-hour ultimatum to quit India. Many Indian men are enraged with the presence of Pakistani actors in India. That doesn’t make them right or wrong but that’s the truth.

It’s true that the contribution of Pakistani artists in the Indian film industry cannot be undermined. From Reshma to Atif Aslam and Zeba to Fawad Khan, they have all gladdened us and have in exchange got our love and respect. However, if there is any slightest chance of making our rivalries nervous with remission, the Indian cinema lovers must not think the other way.


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On this very notion, the eminent Bollywood film maker, Karan Johar was absolutely right in saying that banning actors will not resolve terrorism. Salman Khan, the ‘Bhai’ of Bollywood also, did not step back and did have a straightforward opinion: “They are artists. We have killed the terrorists. Artists are not terrorists. These are two different subjects. They come to our country after acquiring visa, and it’s our government who allows them with the work permit in our country.”


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There is however, a larger picture which Karan, Salman and many like them either don’t understand or intentionally try to ignore. Actors are part of the big entertainment industry which has a huge commercial worth and is a source of employment to many.

There is so much to talk of the clash of art and politics that one cannot by any means stand for condemnation of either of the notions. So, in a way, Fawad Khan, the most popular of all the Pakistani actors, has been in the Indian woman’s heart for a long, long time. Indian women have a lot more at stake, emotionally and sentimentally, in Fawad Khan. Indian men look at this sudden anomaly as a threat. And indeed, his uniqueness and exoticness was furthered propelled by the kind of roles he did in Bollywood. But, when there has been a terrorist attack in India, the country that has given the Pakistani thespians stardom, fame, and money beyond what Pakistan could possibly give, they are strangely silent. And this has not gone down well with ‘patriotic Indians’, both the polite kind and the kind to vilify any secular commentator on social media as a ‘Pakistani’ who needs to be deported.


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Hence, there stays just one major question when it comes to “Aman ki Asha” between the countries of India and Pakistan with a divided Bollywood. Is it morally right to continue encashing on the same while terrorist acts continue to kill our brave jawans?

Perhaps, not. Just like cricket diplomacy, it’s time to give film diplomacy with Pakistan a break. And of course, Bollywood stands nothing to lose by not promoting Pakistani actors in our films.

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