Is the blanket ban on Pakstani artistes in India over? With the unofficial ban not with-standing, the intrepid Mahesh Bhatt is all set to bring back Pakistani artistes to India, come what may. Last week, Bhatt made a call to singer-actor Ali Zafar in Karachi offering him a song on the theme of cross-border peace. Ali responded favourably.
So did Shafqat Amanat Ali agree to contribute a song to Mahesh Bhatt’s endeavour free of cost? Delhi-based actor Imran Zahid who will be working with Mahesh Bhatt on this project says, “Every Pakistani artiste Bhatt Saab has approached has responded enthusiastically. Shafqat Amanat Ali’s manager said he doesn’t want any money for this song. We are also working on getting Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam on board.”
But what about the unofficial ban on Pakistani artistes in India? Says Imran, “We are going to use voices of the Pakistani artistes, not their physical presence, for a play called ‘Milne Do’ which will be staged in Delhi on June 8 and Mumbai on June 23. Furthermore, the Indian Government has clarified that it has not banned Pakistani artistes. When the Government has taken a clear stand on the issue, what chance do the protesters stand?”
Imran doesn’t rule out local pockets of protest at the Pakistani presence in our land. “Bhatt Saab is not new to protests. He has dealt with opposition all his life. Dialogue with Pakistan must re-start on a cultural level. The Delhi government is supporting our endeavour here in Delhi and in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has extended support to our mission.”
However, BJP spokesperson Shaina NC is clear on the issue. “Relations with Pakistan have deteriorated to such an extent that there is a move now to declare Pakistan a terror state on an international level. Given the current crisis I don’t think we can have Pakistani artistes coming here.”