Do We Really Need To Target ‘Kultura’ At All?

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Ahana Sen Gupta: It has been 17 years since India truly retaliates against Pak violence. Pakistan, with their fractured notions always tries to slash India. Public places fell prey to their ambush since 1980s. But now heavily guarded strategic areas have been the target. Pathankot Air Base, Uri are the defence bases which dedicated the lives of the shielding forces for motherland.

Uri attack becomes the zenith of robust reactions which resulted in a number of resolutions to cut off ties with the neighbouring country. One of the most pathetic instances has been the ban on the Pakistani artists who are contributing in the Indian film industry. Noted actors like Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, singers like Shafqat Amanat Ali and Atif Aslam have been barred from performing in India. Staunch Hindutva activists and various locals groups urged to deport those actors if they not willingly proceed to leave. Already two concerts have been cancelled.

Condemning the heinous attacks on the army, we must need some strong retaliation. Surgical strikes followed, which wiped out several dozens of Pak militants. Of course it is a bold move by Indian army. Decision of these strikes is well timed indeed. But discarding talent is not any proper resolution.

The official ban imposed on Pakistani actors by the Producer’s Guild is not a logical and instantaneous response post the attacks. There is ample time for such steps. Pakistan followed suit by banning Indian movies. Pushing out actors, cancelling concerts, stalling film screenings are possibly the only measures that political figures can ever prescribe. It is not the first instance we are coming across. Shiv Sena had reportedly denied permission to Ghulam Ali’s concert few months back in Mumbai, which later took place in Kolkata.dp

We don’t counter their talents when their contribution to Bollywood films earns a hit in the box office. We then don’t step back to acknowledge them. So, why now we condemn them? Just in demand of hate for hate’s sake? India and Pakistan have always been in loggerheads. But cultural inter-action has never been victimized in such a scale.

Art and culture doesn’t promote terrorism. The idea stands clear. It is not about fantasizing the cross-border heartthrobs or giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent. They do have ample space back home. But a confluence doesn’t necessarily harm a country’s security. I feel it is a mere figment of imagination that artists can pose a threat to national security. Of course there are some instances like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. But most actors and artists are always soft targets when any such war-like situation takes place.

It is not a song sequence where white girls, clad in skimpy clothes, dance behind the lead actors. But the likes of Fawad and Mahira do not only confine themselves only in cameo experiences, rather portray substantial roles which were then applauded by the audience. Now even these film buffs brand them as traitors and wish to oust them from Indian soil. To note a recent incident, Pak singer Atif Aslam was praised by the legendary Asha Bhosle on one of songs which did rounds on social media. I admit that repeated attempts to cause bloodshed on India may cause a furor, but I believe that targets should be prioritized.

Indian Motion Picture Producers Association had put a ban on Pak actors and technicians till normalcy returns. They claimed that Nation comes first and it is a national responsibility towards the martyrs. Pakistan banned screening of Indian films till bilateral relations ease out. Many political outfits have been accelerating this move. Even official bodies decided to follow suit to avoid the wrath. Do we really need to cease the exchange of culture amidst all the uproar? Why has been film industry making fuss when we have a number of other means to strike back? It is an expression of the hatred which has been unleashed on the artists and the films.

Art and culture had been a binding factor for the two nations. Whenever tension erupts from either side, they become the immediate targets. Banning Films can be the secondary option; we need to address grave concerns first. Cancelling concerts, deportation threats are just intolerable ways to counter the Pak army’s terror. I feel rather than expulsion, we should use this as an opportunity to remove differences. They can rightfully be asked to refrain from making insensitive comments, but a ban is not essential.

‘Aman Ki Asha’ has to be echoed across the borders.