India and Pakistan are not the best of friends because the latter hasn’t made an effort to reform itself. Rather Pakistan is busy in anti India activities and spewing venom at the international level. However, as much as some ‘nationalists’ might dislike, India and Pakistan have a shared history when it comes to art and culture. Stories, ragas and songs have been part of this shared history. Thus even as bombs were hurled from the other side of the border, this tradition of shared culture flourished.
‘When Pakistan supports anti India activities, we stop playing cricket and get over it’, has been a common joke, thanks to the years of inaction by our country. The Shiv Sena seems to have come as a saviour. And this time the Sena has saved us and our morals from a Ghulam Ali concert. Who would know that the lines ‘Is shaher mein kisse mile/ Humse to chhooti mehfilein’ from one of the famous ghazals sung by the Ustad would come true in this way.
As Aditya Thackery of the Thackery dynasty pointed out “we cannot sit and enjoy and music in Mumbai while soldiers are being martyred in Kashmir. There has to be some sort of boycott.” Of course there has to be some boycott. But one could wonder why Shiv Sena had a sudden change of heart. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, a wonderful singer but a Pakistani nonetheless had performed in Mumbai just last month. And there was no sense of boycott in the Sena camp, with Mr. Aditya Thackery’s presence gracing the event. So would we say it is not Ghulam Ali’s nationality, but the genre of his songs that has irked the Sena? Or even if it is his nationality, it is necessary to point out that Ustad Ghulam Ali performed at the Sankat Mochan temple in the Prime Minister’s constituency earlier this year. Narendra Modi had gone on record and expressed his anguish at not being able to attend the concert. So is Sena’s nationalism greater than the Prime Minister’s? Or is it greater than the Chief Minister of Maharashtra’s? Because Devendra Fadnavis doesn’t think one concert would make us weaker and had gracefully offered security to the Ustad’s event.
The Shiv Sena might not want the concert, but would that stop people from listening to Ghulam Ali Ghazals? Would the Shiv Sena now embark on a country wide tour and raid people’s CD and DVD collections to imbibe the ‘sprit’ of ‘nationalism’? And well history has it that Miandad was hosted in the home of the Sena chief- the man is Dawood’s samdhi, and the Thackery family had even attended a concert where the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Saab had performed.
Why single out Ghulam Ali? His songs are just songs and not acts of terror. Supporters of the boycott say Indian singers are not allowed in Pakistan. How does that matter? India doesn’t even sponsor terror or send mercenaries to Pakistan. Why should we do things that they do? If they peddle hate, we might not send back love, but we can ignore their madness.
And then again comes the recurring question – why now? Why Ghulam Ali concert? Yes they had successfully derailed an Atif Aslam concert. Sena and their supporters say – we cannot let them earn here and sponsor terror on the other side of the border. But have they been able to stop the actors from working here? Their protests to stop Pakistanis from working here have been feeble.
Fawad Khan the current heartthrob of lots of women – even though made a pathetic film debut complete with wooden expressions and repetitive dialog delivery; won the Best Debut Male at the Filmfare awards. And he is not just a one off case. Ali Zafar , Veena Malik , Humaiama Malik, Armeena Khan, Meera, Meesha Shafi, Salma Agha , Zeba, Sara Loren are all Pakistani actors. And not great actors too. The Shiv Sena could stop them from working and probably no one would have even cared. In fact most film lovers would be happy. Most of these starlets have bored us to death with their pathetic performances. But would the common man care if a Sara or a Humaima was asked to pack her bags and leave? Would Twitter trend? Would Kejriwal react? Of course no. Who cares if they shake a leg in an item number or whether their character gets killed or lives in their upcoming flop movie?
Has Sena stopped Shoaib Akhtar from IPL gigs? Or Wasim Akram from entering Wankhede? Isn’t he the KKR coach. So he has set foot in Mumbai right? Or maybe Sena doesn’t react to this because they are low TRP content?
But people care when it is Ustad Ghulam Ali. Because Chupke Chupke raat din is not heard Chupke Chupke but Khule aam. Imagine banning Reshma’s song from Hero – no crooning or lamenting over ‘lambi judaai’ because the singer is Pakistani. Or even for that matter banning all Rahat Fateh Ali , Abida Parveen and Atif Aslam songs. Would the Sena do that? Try for a Bill that would bar all Pakistanis from working in India? Or may be a Bill is too mainstream? Taking to the streets is more Sena style of working. Who can forget their recent contribution to the liberal’s Paryushan outrage?
Also before we fall for Sena’s anti Pakistan stance it is necessary to remember that they had vandalised the BCCI office in 1999 and even the Prudential Cup of 1983 was not spared. Wasn’t that Cup a symbol of our nationalistic pride? And of course who can forget the infamous digging of the pitch at Kotla and shaming the nation in front of the entire cricketing fraternity. Probably Anil Kumble’s 10 on 10 had taken all the limelight and saved us from further embarrassment.
Wonder if it is Ghulam Ali or the BJP and Fadnavis’s growing flamboyance that is actually making the Shiv Sena so nervous. The Sena reminds the Indian government that it should continue to maintain pressure on Pakistan, but forgets that is what Modi and Swaraj did at the UN meet. That kind of shaming is and will always be more effective than stopping the concert.
This has only given brownie points to political opportunists and we shouldn’t be surprised if Modi is blamed by some intellectual even for this.
The Shiv Sena’s nationalism is of course questionable. Since it is not just Pakistanis that they are chasing out. It was even South Indians , Gujaratis, Biharis and Jains. Maybe these lines from the Ghazal sung by the Ustad fits them well – Koonche ko tere chhodkar/ Jogi hi ban jaaye magar/ Jungle tere, parbat tere/ Basti teri, sahera tera.
Indian and Pakistan are not at war. The Embassy is still running and the Maharashtra CM should be lauded for his offer to counter the Sena jingoism. Hope the Sena realizes that it needs to make some mature moves too.