Ever since tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan, the electronic and social media these days is filled with news and queries about whether Mahira Khan has been replaced in ‘Raees’ her first movie with Shah Rukh Khan or if Saif Ali Khan’s face will be plastered on Fawad Khan’s in his upcoming Indian movie. Somehow, this has become a burning issue for many and a topic of conversation over dinner table in many households. Many of us have openly expressed our delight at the news, making statements like “serves them right,” “they deserve to be insulted for working with the enemy”, an entire spectrum of reactions to this news but the main headline is anger at the sentiments of some of the Indian organizations towards our golden children.
Both are rumors just to clarify, and I am sure Mahira and Fawad breathed a sigh of relief at the confirmation too. Most Pakistanis take umbrage these days even at the mere mention of Indian movies; emotions running high and ubiquitous patriotism felt everywhere. There is a lot of hurt and anger people feel at the way Indian nationalist party MNS gave a 48 hours ultimatum to our actors to leave their country and even more disappointment with some of the actors like Ali Zafar, Fawad and Mahira who are choosing to remain neutral and not respond to what is going on.
I for once empathize with the vignette of glamorous life these actors experienced before they were sent packing home figuratively speaking. There is no doubt in my mind that Indian film makers will think twice before working with Pakistani artists and that disappoints me as I used to feel pride every time Atif Aslam’s song would break records or Pakistani dramas would win admiration across the border.
The question of the hour is, why the silence of Fawad or Mahira being equated with lack of patriotism or lack of self-respect on their part? We as a nation live day in and out selfishly pursuing our own personal dreams and ambitions, nationalism limited to Independence Day only. Blaming them for working in a much bigger entertainment industry has no bias when some of these performers have started their careers in Pakistan; still working here and have not defamed our country’s image by any way. Why can’t we see that they are only portraying a positive image of Pakistan and are ambassadors in their own capacity? Let’s thrash Adnan Sami who is openly betraying his roots but let’s give a break to those who are only gaining popularity across the border for their hard work and talent.
Let’s try being less hypocritical and express our nationalism by our own actions first. I openly challenge people not to watch Ranbir Kapoor’s and Fawad Khan’s next if it is released in the local cinemas. I can bet that tickets will be sold out before the movie is released. So why is the weight of nationalism just projected on a selected few who being good actors want to work in more developed cinema industries to enhance their learning and exposure?
There has always been a debate on banning Indian movies. Currently that possible ban is freaking out the cinema owners whose businesses will go down the drain as our film industry though having come a long way, still cannot make it feasible for cinemas to run successfully. Let’s be realistic and admit that we need Indian movies more than India needs our selected few actors. We are right in condemning the ignoble feelings of hatred some of the Indian leaders and media are projecting onto us but I doubt these sentiments transcend the government or the few extremist Hindu thinkers.
Asad Ul Haq a well-known commercial director/film maker is one of the many people in Pakistan who strongly feel that our artists should prefer to work in Pakistan. “It’s not about working there or here but more about giving priority to the one they belong to first. If I am successful today my motherland has a lot to do with that so why then does it take a back seat for them.”
It is a fact that many actors are in parallel working in Pakistani films too so why is their working in India unacceptable whereas if Hollywood calls them we will all be seeing them off at the airport. Its high time we become less judgmental about everything under the sun. Let’s not confuse an artist’s ambition for growth in his field with traitor ship and give the devil his due!