Artistes involved in cross border collaborations weigh in on India’s treatment of Pakistani talent
NEW DELHI / KARACHI: After forcefully cancelling Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concert in Maharashtra, and smearing the face of the man who organised Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri’s book launch, Shiv Sena forced organisers to abandon a show by Indo-Pak sufi rock band – The Mekaal Hasan Band.
The band’s concert — led by guitarist Mekaal Hasan– was to be held on Sunday night in Ahmedabad. However, prior to the start of the show around a dozen Shiv Sena activists gathered outside the venue and started shouting anti-Pakistan slogans.
The police later arrested the activists for defying their orders. In light of the situation the organisers decided to cancel the event.
“We have arrested them for violating the Police Commissioner’s order which bars people from holding such protests without our permission,” said an official. The activists, who had been booked under IPC Section 188 (for defying orders of police), appeared before a court after which they were released on bail on Monday.
Read: India arrests six Shiv Sena activists for attacking Kasuri book launch organiser
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Mekaal Hasan said the band decided to call off the concert keeping in mind the fact that it was taking place at an academic institution. “We did not want students or the school property to be harmed by the party. Obviously these are certain elements [and] all Indians are not like this,” he said.
India’s far right party, which is notorious for its anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan stance, is part of the BJP-led ruling coalitions in Maharashtra as well as the central government.
Although this is not the first instance of Pakistani artistes facing backlash in India but the back-to-back nature of these events may be a matter of concern for local actors and musicians travelling for work to India.
Veteran actor Jawed Sheikh, a frequent in Bollywood films, although disappointed at the incidents believes that it was only in certain areas that such events occurred. “What people need to understand is that such incidents tend to take place in certain locations mainly Mumbai, Maharashtra. Otherwise I have performed all over India and have never faced any such problems.”
He added, “It is nice to see their civil society waking up and taking notice of this; even reputed actors such as Naseeruddin Shah have spoken about how well they are treated when they visit Pakistan and for the sentiment to be reciprocated. Hopefully their government would also look into this matter now.”
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Other actors who have been known to feature in motion pictures across the border have also expressed their dismay at the situation. Actor Alyy Khan was ‘disappointed’ at how local artistes were being robbed of the chance to perform in India. “Fortunately for Pakistani actors, the local industry is getting better so it is not like they’d be out of work.”
Having recently returned from a successful tour of India with his troupe, Ajoka, playwright and screenwriter Shahid Nadeem noted that these events were actually the result of a ‘political struggle’ taking place in India right now. “Due to the political tension in India right now these groups are using Pakistan-shaming and banning our artistes as bait to start protests.”
He said the best response would be to, “remain unaffected and show no reaction at all, but just continue doing our job as artistes.”