Ghulam Ali concert row: Organisers met Uddhav Thackeray, but failed to convince him

Sena's youth wing chief Aditya Thackeray said, "We cannot have fun here when our soldiers are suffering."

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza | Updated: October 9, 2015 9:09 am
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Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray reportedly told the organisers of the now-cancelled concert featuring Ghulam Ali that he himself is a big fan of the Pakistani ghazal maestro, but the performance at a time when tensions at the border continue to rise could not be allowed.

Having received two letters from the Shiv Sena protesting the scheduled concert, one from the local unit of the party at the venue, Shanmukhananda Hall, and another from the Chitrapat Sena, the party’s film industry union, the event organisers reached out to Thackeray for a breakthrough.

Randhir Roy, business head at Panache Media, the event management company for the concert, told The Indian Express that he heard of the Sena’s demand for cancellation of the concert on October 6. “It came in the form of a letter, hand delivered at the office at Shanmukhananda Hall and they called me up,” recounted Roy, who immediately went to the venue to take a look at the letter.

The manager at Shanmukhananda Hall added that the Chitrapat Sena sent a similar letter on Wednesday. “The first one was signed by Aadesh Bandekar while the one on October 7 was sent by Mangesh Satamkar,” said a manager at Shanmukhananda.

Roy got in touch with Sena workers who arranged for him to meet Thackeray at the mayor’s office. “We met at 7.30pm and Uddhavji explained to me that they don’t have a problem with the artiste. He also admitted to being a huge fan of Ghulam Ali saheb, but said he cannot allow a Pakistani talent to perform in the state as the tension between the two countries is high,” said Roy.

After a round of discussion, the concert in Mumbai was called off and a decision to cancel the Pune show, scheduled for October 10, was also taken.

Incidentally, while Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called the Shiv Sena’s belligerence as “unfortunate”, his public declaration of full protection for the concert never reached the organisers.

Having opted to cancel the show in view of the threat of violence, Roy said they didn’t hear from the government or the Mumbai police. “I learnt of his (the chief minister’s) promise from the media, like everyone else,” said Roy.

“My government is willing to give full protection to Ali’s concert in Mumbai. The show must go on. It is unfortunate to drag a world-class, renowned ghazal singer into Indo-Pakistan politics,” Fadnavis had said.

The organisers, on their part, did not reach out to the authorities. “The safety of 2700 people who were to attend the show was at stake. If even one person gets injured, the responsibility would be mine,” said Roy.

Panache Media began to organise the ghazal maestro’s shows in India in 2012. Roy said Ali hasn’t faced any such protest or calls for cancellation. The singer, as popular in India as in his home country, performs here several times a year. His last concert was in Hyderabad on April 5 and he last performed in Mumbai on November 21, 2014 at Shanmukhananda Hall.

“His shows are always house-full. This time too, the most expensive tickets, priced at Rs 5,000, were the first to be sold out,” said Roy. The concert was a tribute to the late ghazal singer Jagjit Singh.

Aditya Thackeray, chief of the Sena youth wing, said, “We enjoy the songs of Ghulam Ali. However, we need to show some sensitivity towards our soldiers killed at the borders. We cannot be having fun when our jawans are being killed.”

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  1. A
    Oct 8, 2015 at 1:25 pm
    In addition, he must be asked to sign a written declaration that he will not eat beef, or not eat beef during his stay in India.
  2. D
    Desy girl
    Oct 8, 2015 at 3:28 pm
    We must respect each other’s culture and talent. We are not mixing politics with bilateral trade. Similarly dont mix politics with cultural shows
  3. A
    Ashutosh Shukla
    Oct 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm
    A fresh thinking and nicely put Aditya. We all love Ghulam ALi but wish stan too reciprocated our love for their people by loving us. Till such time it learns to conduct itself in acceptable manner its cricket and the culture has to wait. Every time we want to have a dialogue they want to invite the separatist ok fine with us but don't want your cricket team or your artists here. Jai Hind
  4. B
    Oct 8, 2015 at 9:05 pm
    I was told by BJP Govt that our soldiers are retaliating. So where is the question of suffering? If he is talking about confrontation at border, it is there from the days of independence. Ghulam Ali does not represent the Pak Govt nor any Pak political setup. He represents music. And music has no border. So this statement is immature. Further, what is the credibility of a party, which has a father-son-gson degree in dynasty politics. Violence is its tool, which is unleashed against South Indians, North Indians and section of the press. Aditya Thakeray is so naive and immature, he reminds everybody of the so called "pappu" of the rival party.
  5. J
    Junaid Aslam
    Oct 8, 2015 at 2:22 pm
    It is a wonder that in India extremists are allowed to decide whether or not an artist (Ghulam Ali) can perform or a movie (Bin Roye) can be screened. In stan this is unthinkable, there all Indian cultural products keep selling without any problems no matter any tensions with India.
  6. V
    Oct 8, 2015 at 5:24 pm
    Sena is correct. Terrorism & Culture cant go hand in hand..
  7. G
    Oct 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm
    For some reasons, even as I don't agree with everything this marathi is saying, I do agree with him saying no to Ghulam Ali concert as he represents muslim culture in stan that is predominant in stan, and stan is relentless in causing terror at the boundary.
  8. C
    Oct 8, 2015 at 1:51 pm
    Where was the Shivsena during the Mumbai attack ? Why do you not cut a pumpkin on your birthday instead of a cake - since you say it is against your culture .
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