Someone in Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is a big fan of Abhijeet Bhattacharya. Two days after the singer – in his usual take-no-prisoners, spout-out-as-much-hate-as-you-can style – asked Karan Johar, the Khans, the government, MNS… or whoever was listening to drive out Pakistani actors from India, he had his wish fulfilled.
On Friday, MNS’ Chitrapat Sena issued a “direct threat” – all the Pakistani actors should leave India within 48 hours. And while they were at it, they said they will not allow any Bollywood films to release which have Pakistani faces in it. The ‘direct threat’ was against two specific films – Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees.
Both Abhijeet and MNS have history. If Abhijeet and his trolling have shown him the insides of a police station – obviously in vain, MNS has attacked the very same people before. In 2008, Karan Johar’s Wake Up Sid (also starring Ranbir Kapoor, déjà vu anybody?) was targeted by MNS for calling Mumbai, Bombay. Before MNS could vandalise theatres screening Wake Up Sid, Mumbai was beeped out from the film.
Karan may have thought that was it. But that’s the thing about giving in to bullies, they acquire a taste for it. In 2010, the MNS hooligans were back and the same fate awaited Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar’s My Name Is Khan. The issue at stake was Shah Rukh’s Kolkata Knight Riders having Pakistani players in its ranks. Bollywood didn’t bow and MNS did its thing, but the film still released.
Ghulam Ali was not so lucky. The Pakistani ghazal maestro’s concerts were cancelled in Mumbai and Pune in 2015 after more such “direct threats” from MNS and Shiv Sena. What MNS loses out in terms of its presence in legislature and Parliament, it makes up by its sheer nuisance value.
Its diktats would keep on coming; the question is how long Bollywood – the perfect soft target – would be expected to follow them?
After the Uri attack, the emotions are all roiled up and India’s pacifist stand is under attack. But MNS’ stand is more of a political posturing than anything else. Bollywood and cricket is a high-return investment – attack it and you will get media coverage in not just India but across globe. Add in Pakistan bashing and it stops being pure news too, it is about patriotism and emotions. Who will dare question that?
Throw their artistes out, play no more cricket – the same circle has been repeated so many times that even a novice troll such as Abhijeet knows all the steps. And MNS? They, along with their elder sibling Shiv Sena, invented this dance.
Not that MNS or Shiv Sena believe that this message can stop terror attacks in India. If Fawad Khan leaves his projects in the middle, it will not hurt Pakistan or its political bosses. It will definitely not hurt the terror masterminds or their hardened acolytes who are anyway against dance, music and entertainment of any kind. The only ones who will get hurt are people in Bollywood, from the producers to the artists and technicians working on the project.
As police promises security “as and when required,” Pakistani artistes and Indian filmmakers are in the mood to weather it out. And we would say — more power to them. Because MNS, think about the cost of your political posturing?