In­dia, Pak­istan ten­sions spill over into Bol­ly­wood

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

into my film,” said Jo­har in the video state­ment. He promised not to work with ac­tors from “the neigh­bour­ing coun­try” in the fu­ture – a pointed ref­er­ence to ac­tors from Pak­istan.

Af­ter al­leged Pak­istani mil­i­tants at­tacked a mil­i­tary en­camp­ment in In­dia’s Kash­mir ter­ri­tory last month and In­dia re­tal­i­ated, ten­sions be­tween the neigh­bours have been high.

Now these ten­sions are spilling over into the en­ter­tain­ment and me­dia worlds in both coun- tries, with the In­dian Mo­tion Pic­ture Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion ban­ning all Pak­istani artists in fu­ture films and many Pak­istani ac­tors, tech­ni­cians and song writ­ers flee­ing Mum­bai over con­cerns for their safety.

Cin­e­mas in Pak­istan, mean­while, have stopped show­ing Bol­ly­wood films and no In­dian-pro­duced movies and tele­vi­sion shows will be aired there.

Ear­lier this month, the Ma­ha­rash­tra Navnir­man Sena (MNS), a far-right pol- it­i­cal party in Ma­ha­rash­tra, where the Bol­ly­wood in­dus­try is based, is­sued warn­ing to all Pak­istani ac­tors to leave In­dia within 48 hours. They have also an­nounced a boy­cott of Jo­har’s movie and threat­ened vi­o­lence if the movie is screened in In­dian cin­e­mas.

Even af­ter Jo­har re­leased his video plea, the MNS seemed unim­pressed, vow­ing con­tin­ued ag­i­ta­tion at lo­cal mul­ti­plexes. Al­ready 12 pro­test­ers have been tak­ing into cus­tody in Mum­bai af­ter they tried to force their way into one mul­ti­plex dur­ing a protest.

On Thurs­day, Mukesh Bhatt, the pres­i­dent of the In­dia’s Pro­duc­ers Guild, met In­dia’s home min­is­ter, Ra­j­nath Singh, to seek se­cu­rity for movie the­atres where Jo­har’s film, Ae Dil hai Mushkil, will de­but next Fri­day. In the movie, a Pak­istani ac­tor named Fawad Khan has a small role.

La­belling the MNS as his “broth­ers who have gone astray”, Bhatt ap­pealed for non­vi­o­lence at the film’s re­lease.

Some of Bol­ly­wood’s left- lean­ing ac­tors de­fended Jo­har, say­ing he was bul­lied, while other crit­ics lamented the sense of na­tion­al­is­tic zeal that has swept through In­dia’s artis­tic com­mu­nity in the wake of re­cent cross-bor­der at­tacks.

Jo­har “ap­pears to be caught in one of those hostage sit­u­a­tions, where the vic­tim is made to ad­mit that he is a spy, prob­a­bly just be­fore he is ex­e­cuted. In a way, he is a hostage, not just to a small po­lit­i­cal party that openly threat­ens to ‘teach a les­son’ to all those who use Pak­ista­nis in their films, but also to the grow­ing bel­liger­ence in our polity which makes it al­most im­pos­si­ble to tol­er­ate a diver­sity of opin­ions”, Sid­harth Bha­tia wrote in the Wire news site.

Bha­tia con­tin­ued: “The film in­dus­try is a peren­ni­ally soft tar­get be­cause of its high pro­file and its swift buck­ling in to any such pres­sure, but don’t be sur­prised if soon, read­ing Pak­istani au­thors or be­ing Face­book friends with Pak­ista­nis or even writ­ing about that coun­try could be de­clared anti-na­tional. Any of us could then be turned into Karan Jo­har.” – Wash­ing­ton Post

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