Dear Karan Johar,
You don’t know me. As an introduction of sorts, let me tell you: I was the guy who many months ago wrote “Hang Ujjal Dosanjh for treason before charging Aamir Khan with sedition” in response to attacks on him for voicing his wife’s fears about the then brewing and now surging fanatical storm in India.
I have been out of India since 1964. I was an eighteen-year-old young man, born and raised in relative poverty, who left India and over the years had to become a Canadian citizen to be able to practice law so that I could “bring home the bacon” as we say in the West. Please understand the expression has no religious connotations. It connotes only the responsibility of the parent to put food, vegetarian or non, on the table so it could go into the mouths of his/her hungry children.
So I understand why you have made a deal with the devil of fanaticism to have your movie run without violent and fanatic thugs burning the movie theatres in a felt rage of vengeance against Pakistani terrorists, sponsored by a terrorist military that owns Pakistan, a country run by an invalid Sharif government.
You and I both know that Pakistani madrassas and military are in the business of churning out thousands of fanatics ready to attack ‘infidel’ India in the name of Wahabi Islamic terror funded by Saudi money. By and large Indians, including the Indian Muslims, have rejected the call of fanaticism. India has largely escaped the most vicious Islamist poison of Wahabi terror. That speaks to India’s tremendous ability to absorb unanticipated military or cultural shocks–an ability we know well from our reading of Indian history.
As an Indian overseas, I understood and supported the surgical strikes following the dastardly Uri attack. But I also know as I am sure do you, that many Pakistanis just like Indians, want peace on our borders between the two countries. If the Pakistani actor/s in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil were fanatics harbouring hate against India, or were afraid of the India-hating military and the terrorists trained and funded by it, they would never have dared or agreed to work in your film. You must admire their courage.
I can tell you from personal experience standing against a storm of religious fanaticism is no easy task. Several years ago I took unending abuse and several poundings of an iron bar on my head in fighting the Khalistanis in Canada. Every thump of the iron bar on my skull made me more determined to fight them. The Indian and a lover of freedom of expression in me kept thinking “How dare they?”
I want to say to you that I understand all the financial compulsions that made you say that you will never ever have Pakistanis act in your movies. To ensure your movie was allowed to run in theatres in India you surrendered your freedoms and mine to a few fanatics and goons of the MNS–the self styled definers of Indian patriotism. And you know patriotism is often the last refuge of scoundrels.
I was sad that you so surrendered your freedom of expression. I am sure you know and remember the words of the prominent protestant pastor Martin Niemoller and a great foe of Adolf Hitler. I reproduce them here for you and all of us to remember:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one
left to speak for me.
I am sad that you surrendered to the forces of darkness and despotism; but even sadder that not many others from the land of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Lohia and JP had the courage to speak out.