Suggesting a temporary ban by the Hindi film industry on working with Pakistani artistes, Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Babul Supriyo on Wednesday said that like others have “cornered Pakistan”, and with the US just “one step away from declaring it a terrorist state”, Bollywood should show solidarity to Indian soldiers by not engaging with artistes from that country. Supriyo, himself a playback singer, was addressing the media with Vashu Bhagnani, producer of the film ‘Welcome to New York’. He was referring to the song ‘Ishtehaar’ in the film, sung by Pakistani artiste Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
In an earlier statement, Supriyo had expressed his disapproval in engaging with Pakistani artistes at a time when tensions on the border have escalated. “From a sensibility of an artiste, I believe we have no border, caste, religion. Having said that, when our soldiers are being killed on the borders, like in cricket — not playing with Pakistan — a statement from Bollywood will make a huge impact,” he said.
Supriyo recalled the promise made during the ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ controversy, which starred popular Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, and said, “I feel this is the right time to take a stand, and probably have a temporary ban. If Bollywood agrees, soldiers on the border will feel good.”
Bhagnani said, “We want to remove the song but it is not possible at the last moment, as the prints have gone all over the world. But for us, India and (Indian) soldiers come first – we don’t want to hurt anyone.” Accompanied by Suresh Amin, CEO of Indian Films and TV Producers Council, Bhagnani said they will make a promise to “send a notice to the industry to simply stop Pakistani artistes” and call for a ban.
The composer of the song, Shamir Tandon, who was present, and Amin also endorsed Supriyo and Bhagnani’s stand. Bhagnani also responded to objections raised by a man in Amritsar against another song in the film – ‘Pant mein gun (gun in the pants)’. “I got a notice saying that Indian singer ‘pant mein gun’ nehin bol sakta. But the police do go around with a gun in their pants. What’s wrong in that? To make a film one needs creativity, and the CBFC has passed this film. There are two sides to a coin and the meaning depends on your point of view,” he said. The film is slated to release on Friday.