The call of Hindutva brigade to boycott Pakistani artists working in India is nothing new. The mixing of arts & culture with politics to build politics of hatred and divide is their inbuilt strategy. It is employed quite often for creating religious divide. This helps them serve their communal agenda. Their hate Pakistan campaign is only an extension of hate Muslim campaign.
While Arts & Culture bridges the artificial political divide between India & Pakistan, politics of hatred only widens the divide. Acceptance of artists from the (other) is part of larger Indian and Pakistani orientation. As much as Pakistani artists are accepted in India, Indian artists are accepted in Pakistan. Similar to Indians appreciating Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Ali, a similar pattern is seen when Pakistan is able to accept a Shahrukh or Amir Khan movie. Many of the non-Khan films have also been block blusters in Pakistan. Appreciation of art only transcends the political boundaries. Arts & culture can only serve as a means of breaking the political divide between the two nations.
In the charged atmosphere following Uri and surgical strikes, Pakistani artists have been asked to critic their government just because they work in India. While on the one hand, Indian artists are expected to express opinions only in favor of Indian government, in the case of Pakistan the expectation is to critic their governments. Critiquing the Pakistani artists has become a new trend in proving one’s nationalism. Many of the Bollywood actors like Ajay Devgan, Bobby Deol and already proven nationalist Anupam Kher have started falling into this trap and critiquing Pakistani Artists. There are some moderate voices as that of Mahesh Bhatt, Karan Johar, Salman Khan and Saif Ali Khan who argue in favor of delinking art & culture with politics.
The decision of Indian Motion Pictures Association (IMPA) to ban Pakistani artists and technicians from working in India is a reflection of politics preceding art. The implications could go beyond and may widen the Indo-Pakistan cultural contacts. The more widening of the divide between the two, the better it serves the communal agenda of the Hindutva brigade.
T Navin works with an NGO as a Researcher. He did his M.Phil from Jawaharlal Nehru University