The decision of the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) to ban Pakistani artists and technicians from working in Indian films until normalcy returns is misguided. At its core, the move displays a flawed understanding of what such an association should — and shouldn’t — stand for. Such groups are meant to provide justice to their professional fraternities — the nationality, caste, gender or religious identity of professionals should not determine their access to a professional support group. To ban a professional from their trade, based on identity, is out of step with a cinema industry loved across the world. Artists must be mirrors and windows to the world and its large heart — not narrow-minded channels for local conflicts.
The IMPPA’s move is also a misstep given the importance of cultural exchange between India and Pakistan. It is argued that Indian stars aren’t welcome to work in Pakistan. However, Pakistani theatres screen Indian movies and until recently, Indian television was cheered by Pakistanis fans. Worryingly, Pakistani theatres have blocked Indian films now. The India-Pakistan landscape is both lightened and enlightened by the sounds of South Asian songs, and tales of love that have the power to withstand hate. To ban such work — and workers — is a loss to people in both nations.
Importantly, PM Narendra Modi himself has drawn a crucial distinction between Pakistan’s people and terror groups. He recently called on the people of Pakistan to demand development over violence from their government. India’s strike on terror launchpads after Uri signifies this country’s fight against forces that want to make the world a smaller, uglier place, run by bullies who dislike the strum of a song, the laugh over a joke. To ban Pakistani artists in Indian cinema is playing into the hands of such brutes.