The world is trying to unite to fight one enemy — Covid-19 — but the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) is busy warning singers to not work with Pakistani artists like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. ‘Pakistan is busy killing our soldiers’, reads an open letter from the association, where it was warning the likes of Harshdeep Kaur and Vijay for collaborating for an ‘online concert’ with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The ‘concert’ was another one of those impromptu efforts to entertain an increasingly restless world trapped in their own homes.
“When the Uri attacks happened (in 2016), we had already given a directive for non-cooperation with Pakistani artists. Then when Pulwama happened, we had furnished letters to all the members. Then we banned the likes of Mika Singh and Diljit Dosanjh, who were going to do these live concerts in the US where the promoters were from Pakistan. Consequently, they cancelled all their shows,” Ashok Dubey, General Secretary (FWICE), said in a phone conversation with InUth, adding, “we’ve warned all artists for the final time that if they continue dishonouring our non-cooperation stance, then our workers will boycott any such artist.”
When asked why such collaborations to boost the morale of the public in trying times wasn’t okay by him, he said, “The nation comes first, and if just for extra money or someone’s entertainment, they’re going to continue doing this, then we won’t tolerate such behaviour. We’ve advised our artists that if you want to collaborate with someone, is there a dearth of Indian artists? If you want to do a music concert, then why not do it with your colleagues here? You can help out, entertain your fans… is it really important to seek out Pakistan’s Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for such initiative? Why do you have to do a concert with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, when Pakistan is our biggest enemy?”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak and the (nearly) worldwide lockdown in the past three weeks have prompted several actors/artists to conduct Facebook/Instagram lives. Pakistani pop sensation Ali Sethi recently took over the Indian internet, when he introduced Rekha and Vishal Bhardwaj to singing legend, Farida Khanum. Sethi has also been collaborating with other Urduphiles of the country, singer Shilpa Rao, stand-up comedian Zakir Khan, lyricist/writer Varun Grover. FWICE isn’t happy with either Bhardwaj or Harshdeep Kaur challenging the association’s stance about collaborating with Pak artists. “Whether it is Harshdeep Kaur or Vishal Bhardwaj, the musicians, the spot boys, we have around 5 lakh registered members at the association. If you’re not going to mend your ways, then nobody will work with you,” Dubey said.