Pakistani artistes ban: Threats of violence from MNS robs the objective of its sheen

Mahesh Vijapurkar

October 14, 2016 18:38:30 IST

However laudable an objective, seeking to achieve it with violence or even threats of violence, robs the objective of its sheen. Political parties have to understand this but some have not. Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, CPM, Trinamool Congress, for example. The means is all about their dynamics.

Parties with lesser component of muscle – the BJP, the Congress, etc – have always made an issue of the others’ use of muscle. Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s underlying violence has made them parties which secured compliance. Like downing shutters in response to bandh calls. The two parties are respected by their cadre but feared by others.

Today, Amey Khopkar, chief of the MNS’ cine workers wing, openly threatened that if multiplexes defy the demand for not screening Bollywood movies which has Pakistani artistes. “We will beat them up,” he said on Times Now this afternoon.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil poster new 380

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil poster.

Nothing could be more blatant, or brazen than that.

It is likely public sentiment does not translate into a desired response, like the objection to Pakistani actors or artistes performing in Indian movies or stage events unless a political party gets involved. The public may like to see Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil but may have problems with Pakistani artists in it.

So Khopkar said, “I won’t allow any kind of nonsense”. Multiplex owners who have not announced their plans to avoid screening that or such movies, “should know glasses, interiors are costly”, and in superstar Rajnikant’s fashion, added, “mind it”.

The objection from the Right parties have been seen even when cricket series are announced. India does not play any bilateral series with the neighbouring country, and certainly not in India. If it does, it is only the ICC fixtures outside India – like the World Cup. If that happened, why let them in on the art sector?

So the political parties hold out the threat of vandalism.

“Whoever tries to cast Pakistani artistes in events, shows, we will beat them up.” And in the style of the country’s First Family’s son-in-law, Robert Vadra’s infamous ‘are you serious’ chant, said, “Yes, this is an open threat” thrice. Now, you cannot miss it even if you want to – it is all there in capital letters, bold, italicised, and underlined.

Nitin Datar, chief of the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association whose members are single-screen owners, too was on air, saying with a straight face that their decision – either ahead or contrary to the multiplex owners and exhibitors – explained away about the sentiment against Pakistan post Uri and surgical strike as a reason.

But there was a mention of properties at stake amid talk of patriotism.

The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association’s chief, TP Aggarwal’s view, also on Times Now, was that those who fear trouble by exhibiting should go to the chief minister, or the court, and seek protection. One understands the producers’ sentiments too – oodles of money ride on the movies they hope would become blockbusters.

We have seen how even Sanjay Dutt’s detention, or fears of conviction and jailing of Salman Khan are always measured on the yardstick of the investments in movies in which they were acting. That’s the Bollywood’s way, and the tinsel town may have patriotism as themes of movies but ultimately, the box office or the cash register is a major factor.

Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan have borne the brunt of most of the protests against Pakistani artistes in India, perhaps because of their status as the most successful ones

Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan have borne the brunt of most of the protests against Pakistani artistes in India, perhaps because of their status as the most successful ones

There is indeed a view that Pakistan should be put in its place and treated as an enemy nation though another does canvas the view that art and politics should not be linked, and that Pakistani artistes should not have been banned. MNS had given them an ultimatum to leave the country in three days, and claims are they did.

The Pakistani actors’ silence on the URI attack, on the expectations that terrorism from their country be condemned took time to sink in. Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan obliged, seeking a peaceful world.

MNS says it is seeking to ensure that Indian show their resentment by banning actors from Pakistan. It is unlikely that the two Khans would get to act in Indian movies because they eventually condemned terror.

It is all about sentiment.

Updated Date: Oct 14, 2016 18:38 PM