Recently Indian Motion Producers Association (IMPPA) took a decision to ban Pakistani artists and technicians from working in Indian films until normalcy returns. The pretext of the ban is the terrorist attack on an army camp in Uri allegedly carried by JeM, killing 20 army personnel. The attack created poignant enragement and attracted widespread condemnation, which it must. Terrorism is a vicious menace and must be condemned unequivocally. While people across the country were mourning the loss of lives of the army men, certain partisan political parties (read MNS) tried to trade the occasion for political brownie points by calling for ban on Pakistani artists. India soon fell prey to this vituperative discourse and polarities started emerging with some groups against the ban while others supporting the ban. The argument by the later was that since Pakistan has always been inflicting sufferings to India therefore all sorts of engagements with Pakistan must be snapped. It makes no sense to harbour their artists in our industry when ISI and Pakistan backed terrorists are incessantly killing our army men in coward intrigues. The argument may sound reasonable but actually is foul and distasteful when given some thought.
While terrorism is a hydra headed monster which needs to be eliminated, the course sought to do that by the banning of artists is self-defeating and is no way a solution to the problem. By erecting frontiers between the two countries the animosity will only escalate and terrorism won’t pass into oblivion. Russia and USA are staunch enemies. From 1947 to 1991 (till disintegration of USSR) they were engaged into vitriolic cold war but never ever Hollywood evicted Russian artists on pretext that USA and USSR enmity because the US film fraternity knew that banning artists won’t solve problem but can instead help in nursing the wounds.
The passion to call off engagements with Pakistan by a certain groups in India is driven by reckless chauvinism. Post Uri a situation has arisen from which these rabid hatemongers want to reap dividends. They have created a venomous narrative that if you support the ban you are a true national and if you don’t support the ban, you are not just antinational but a traitor who doesn’t honour the army. The ban isn’t really about condemning the killings. Had that been the case then why this jingoistic group didn’t come forward when 14 year old Insha was blinded by pallets or when 80 other civilians were killed in on-going Kashmir turmoil. The craving for banning Pakistan actors is encumbered with hatred and actually there is no concern for welfare of Indian citizens. If that was the case then why doesn’t this nationalist brigade get enraged when a dalit woman is stripped in full public glare or when tribals are evicted from their land to fend for themselves?
Indian society has been held hostage to what Ramachandra Guha calls ‘nationalism of paranoia and insecurity’. The obsession of hating Pakistan is so deep that it eclipses the real issues at helm- poverty, unemployment, resentment in Kashmir, persecution of Dalits and tribals, gender inequality among others. Artists are soft targets. They particularly don’t have financial might or lobbying power to choke the voices speaking against them. No one spoke about banning trade with Pakistan since it would affect our powerful business class and govt can’t afford their displeasure.
Amidst all animosity and hatred between India and Pakistan, it is the cinema which connects the two countries. The combined artistic culture of India and Pakistan defines these countries for each other. There are more ardent fans of Shahrukh Khan in Pakistan and similarly Fawad Khan is more adored in India. Banning Pakistani actors will take away only glue which is holding these countries together. In the entire ploy of this venom spewing, if anyone is winning, it is MNS and India can’t let hatred win. Rather than banning artists,govt should deploy formidable measures to eliminate terrorism like international cooperation, dextrous diplomacy, political initiatives and people to people engagements along with invoking cultural links and strengthening economic ties. Terrorists thrive on hatred; love and engagement defeats them. By banning artists India is trying to defeat engagement and thereby ensuring triumph of terrorists.
Suhail Qasim Mir is an MBA graduate from CMS,Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.Email: Suhailmir24@gmail.com