A week after Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) and Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) declared that none of the Indian TV and film producers would work with Pakistani artists and technicians, the decision has evoked strong criticism from Pakistan.
The controversy (re)started when
singer-turned-politician Union minister Babul Supriyo demanded that a song sung by Rahat Fateh Ali in Diljit Dosanjh and Sonakshi Sinha film, Welcome to New York be removed and be re-recorded with an Indian singer instead.
While the song, Ishtehaar stayed in the movie, the IMPPA and FWICE workers decided to take an action calling for a blanket ban on collaborating with artists from across the border, in keeping with the sentiment ‘Nation Comes First’.
In response to the ban, spokesperson for the Pakistan Foreign Affairs Ministry told IANS:
“It is unfortunate that art and cinema, which bring people together by acting as cultural bridges, are being held hostage to hate and xenophobia. Unfortunately this decision, following several others, including non-issuance of visas to Pakistani pilgrims, refusal to allow participation of Sikhs and Katas Raj pilgrims, and cancellation of sports matches, underscores the growing intolerance and bias prevalent in India.”
Danyal Gilani, director, Information and Broadcast ministry and Pakistani journalist, Yusra Aksari tweeted their reactions on the ban:
Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) puts a ban on Pakistani artists and technicians working in Indian film industry. Let’s see how the situation unfolds and how Pakistan reacts to the situation. pic.twitter.com/PUIvSmsKEs
— Danyal Gilani (@DanyalGilani) February 27, 2018
— Yusra Askari (@YusraSAskari) February 27, 2018
In wake of the ongoing controversy and the following ban, much-popular Pakistani singer, has refused to come to India to promote his latest song, Sehmi Si Dhadkan from Daas Dev, alleged the producer, Sanjeev Kumar. Disturbed by the fact that the demand for a ban has come from a central minister, Kumar said:
“Normally, such statements are made by fringe groups. When a minister says it, it leaves an impact on more people. But we needed Atif for this song. He has 20 million followers on social media. Imagine the kind of traction we would have got had he promoted it.”
Singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan also responded to Babul Supriyo’s statement, which resulted in a series of exchange of tweets between the two:
In midst of so much being said all I can say is music has no boundaries and thank everyone for showing so much love for the songs which I am a part of…… pic.twitter.com/ZjoZstjS1c
— Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (@RFAKWorld) February 20, 2018
India loves u but as I speak 2 u, PakArmyHelicopters r hovering provocatively close 2 our borders breaching bilateral norms•India gave u a lot•Can u reciprocate the love by condemning terror&any assistance that any1 frm Pak is providing these terrorists(ample proof exists Bhai) https://t.co/KYExsL4j1r
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) February 22, 2018
Babul Ji I have always condemned terrorism and will continue doing so. This is a deep subject and yes we all have to respect our countries and it’s sentiments. I can equally say a lot but have always believed we as artists are there to spread message of peace and love with music
— Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (@RFAKWorld) February 22, 2018
Rahatbhai, hope u’ll take my reply in the right spirit_I wil hv no prob shud u say ‘Hame Nasihat na dein”, rather I shall love some ‘Enlightening Nasihat’ frm ur side_ With the Power Music gave us it’l b gr8 if instead of resorting 2 cliche we can actually help bring_Love pic.twitter.com/69oE89YjjN
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) February 24, 2018
This is not the first time, there is a controversy over a Pakistani artist featuring in a Bollywood film, it has been a matter of debate for decades now. But this time around, it picked up momentum around the release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016), over casting Pakistani actor, Fawad Khan. With all the political parties calling for a boycott of all engagement with the Pakistani talent, the producer of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil issued an apology saying that he wouldn’t work with any artist from across the border in future because for him the country comes first. Giving in to the pressure, he also cut Fawad’s role in the film. It happened again when Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees (2017), starring Mahira Khan was ready for release and ultimately, she wasn’t allowed to come to India for the promotions.
While the self-imposed ban by IMPPA and FWICE are disappointing to say the least, one cannot complain much when people in position of power make such shallow and irresponsible statements.