In the wake of the recent Uri attack, in which 20 Indian Army soldiers were killed, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association Friday passed a resolution to ban Pakistani actors from the Indian film Industry. IMPPA in their 87th annual general meeting passed a resolution that no Pakistani will be hired by their producer members forever,” producer TP Aggarwal, the president of IMPPA said.
Producer Ashoke Pandit, a member of the IMPPA, said, “IMPPA, felt its responsibility towards the nation and passed a resolution banning Pakistani actors and technicians in India till normalcy returns. For IMPPA, nation comes first.” Last week, Raj Thackeray-led MNS issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Pakistani artistes and actors including Fawad Khan and Ali Zafar, to leave India by September 25 or else they would be pushed out. Recently the concerts of Pakistani singers Shafqat Amanat Ali and Atif Aslam scheduled in Bengaluru and Gurugram, respectively, were cancelled. It was apparently reported on social media that Pakistani artistes in India were asked to condemn the Uri attack; failing this they would be banned and asked to move out of India.
Banning artistes from performing in a country- whatever their background or the nature of the relations between the host country and the visiting artistes- is an assault on culture itself. It is not just about the relations between India and Pakistan but, to repeat, an attack on culture- something that gives all of meaning and is a noble form of human creations. Cultures do not operate in isolation.
Cultural efflorescence and enrichment takes place and happens when there is interaction and engagement with other cultures. Monocultural societies with no interaction with other cultures calcify and breed ossified and intellectually and culturally starved societies. The IMPPA ban suggests that now politics or more accurately politicking has afflicted the domain of culture in India. This is a worrying omen and reflects the closing of the Indian mind, so to speak. Today, its culture, tomorrow it could be something else. A cascading effect could be set in motion and all domains in life will be sought to be controlled and brought in line with a certain ideology and line of thinking. This is the broad critique of the banning of artistes in India. Specifically, Pakistani artistes have been banned. This reflects, among other things, the appalling level of hatred that exists in India towards Pakistan.
This is something that is not a harbinger of peace and stability in South Asia. Instead of banning Pakistani artistes, it would have been more graceful and gracious to allow them to perform and in fact, use the performance, in the future as a template for diplomacy.
More alarming is the attempt to coerce Pakistani artistes to condemn the Uri attacks. If true, why, the question is, were the artistes asked to condemn? Just because they were from Pakistan does not wash. If indeed this coerced and coercive condemnation attempts are true then the premise and aim appears to have been to almost extract a confession or guilt from the artistes and then extract political mileage from these. This is bad politics and petty politicking. Moreover, if the killing of Indian soldiers deserved condemnation, then what about the 90 people killed in Kashmir since July? Are Kashmiri lives worthless? Or are there double standards at work here?
All in all the ban on artistes is churlish, silly and deeply prejudiced bordering on hatred. In the final analysis, the ultimate loser is culture itself , in particular and humanity at large. This is as tragic and sad as can be.