Reactions, or the lack of them, to the Uri attack have, for some reason, brought the issue of Pakistani artists performing in India to the fore in a way that few things in the troubled history of recent Indo-Pak ties have.
After the MNS asked Pakistani artists in India to leave the country, viewpoints on the subject have been sharply divided within Bollywood. As each day passes, an increasing number of Bollywood personalities – otherwise shy of commenting on political matters – is speaking up.
On one side is the pro-ban brigade, consisting, not surprisingly, of names such as Anupam Kher, Abhijeet Bhattacharya and Madhur Bhandarkar, and also the less obvious ones like Nana Patekar and Randeep Hooda. On the other side, championing the ‘we want peace’ team is – again, not surprisingly – Mahesh Bhatt. A surprisingly rational-sounding Salman Khan has also thrown his weight behind this voice. Filmmakers like Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap have asked what exactly will be accomplished by banning the likes of Fawad Khan from Bollywood, and many others like Saif Ali Khan and Swara Bhaskar feel that artists and art should be kept away from politics.
However, not everyone has a clear point of view, or wants to take a side. Some, like Hema Malini and Om Puri, can’t seem to make up their minds.
Amidst all this, the actual people whose right to work in India is being debated – the Pakistani artists – have largely stayed mum. While singer Shafqat Amanat Ali on Wednesday became the first one to condemn the Uri attack and soon after, Sanam Teri Kasam actress Mawra Hocane tweeted that she “strongly condemns all terror attacks,” Mahira Khan, who became a household name in India after her TV show Humsafar, chose a more subtle way to share her opinion. The actress shared a post by a fellow Pakistani that spoke of her “strange affinity with India” and “the fact that no one will know us like we know each other, because after all, we were once but one.”
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