Leave the Artists Alone
Post Uri the politicians need to leave the artists alone.
Most dangerous in this India Pakistan face off is the loss of camaradarie amongst artists with ruling politicians targeting those who are meant to bridge borders, and rise above man made restrictions and impositions.
For decades, Indian and Pakistani actors, singers and poets have been interacting with each other without rancour, despite the history of partition and the previous hostilities between the two countries.
The concerts of Pakistani ghazal singers on this side of the the border have been sold out on every occasion, with the guns unable to silence the artistic voices of the people.
Ties between the two countries became much stronger in recent times with joint movie productions setting a favourable tone. Fawad Khan, a famous Pakistan actor crossed the borders to act in tSonam Kapoor starrer Khoobsoorat for which he received the best debut Filmfare award. His role in 'Kapoor and Sons' also received rave reviews.
But all of a sudden after hostilities broke out between the two countries Fawad Khan has become the most famous fall guy. The MNS issued an ultimatum to all Pakistani artistes to leave India within 48 hours.
MNS has an agenda arising from the constituency it caters to. So in that sense could be seen as predictable. But what came as a total shock were the sudden war cries from Indian artistes,actors and so called intellectuals to ban Pakistan artistes.Anyone who spoke against this diktat was dubbed anti national in shrill tones.
First to raise his voice against this absurd witchhunt was Salman Khan the star who has the Midas touch to turn any script into a 100 crore project. Khan’s argument was simple: Pakistani artistes staying in India were legal entrants who had received a work visa.
Barely had his detractors drowned the voices of sanity on the social networking sites came the comment of Om Puri during a TV talk-show where he said about those joining the Army ,"Who had asked the soldiers to join the army? Who told them to pick the weapons? Do you want India-Pakistan enmity to become like Israel and Palestine, and fight for ages? India is home to crores of Muslims, there is no point in proving them for war. Several Indians have their relatives staying across the border and vice-versa, how can they fight a war with their cross-border families?"
This was when all hell broke loose.Almost the entire social media ganged up against Puri and sedition cases were filed in several cities against him.
Some leading folk artistes and singers took pot shots at the seasoned actor for equating his own profession to that of a soldier because in essence Puri had stated that acting was as much his profession as joining the army was someone's else. He is absolutely right, but the cacophony drowned out the sense he made.
Om Puri, by the way is an accomplished artiste who has Indian, Pakistani and even Hollywood films in his kitty to boast of. Plus, he is the son of an Army officer and is also a Padamshree. The mediocres crying for his head are showing their own level.It is another matter that later Puri apologised for his comments to defuse the tension.
But any classic artiste knows that there are nine rasas in the Indian system and Veer Rasa is just one of them. Fine arts,poetry,singing,theatre, cinema are all as noble professions as joining the forces.It would be a very dangerous precedent to place the Army above everyone else.
Why are the civilians and army being pitted as adversaries today? Each to his own, with every citizen here having the freedom to choose his or her own vocation. Each profession is noble, and to give the uniform precedence over all others doing their work with integrity sets a precdent closer to military dictatorships, and not to democracies.
(Cover Photograph: Pakistani actor Fawad Khan)