In the year 1999, India witnessed another betrayal from Pakistan. During the days of the Kargil war, a Bollywood movie eloquently depicted the cross-border terrorism carried out by our neighbor Pakistan and created new history in Indian cinema. The movie was a super-hit. Even, the then Home Minister of India, Sri Lal Krishna Advani showed interest in watching the movie, hence a private screening was arranged for Advani and his family. Praising the movie, the former Home Minister said that every Indian must watch this film at least once. The film was Sarfarosh.
Fast forward to 2017 and we witness a strategic change in Bollywood. Recently released “Tiger Zinda Hai” (TZH) shows friendly and hospitable Pakistani ISI officers. Bajrangi Bhaijan shows average good Pakistani people and honest Pakistani reporters dreaming about “aman ki asha”. This is a testimony of the delirium of the makers of these movies. This transformation of Pakistan from “cunning and villainous terror-sympathizer” to a “friendly neighbor” was a slow one, which remained almost unseen to the average moviegoers’ eyes, almost like a covert operation.
Shahrukh Khan’s role in Mai Hoon Naa – essentially a sob story of two brothers is even more weird. In “Main Hoon Na”, SRK doesn’t fight against any Pakistani terrorist/agent or even a soldier, but a former Indian soldier who went rogue due to hyper-nationalism. In “Veer Zaara”, he plays an Indian Air Force pilot who ends up loving a Pakistani girl and ends up in a Pakistani Jail surrounded by warm moms, affable dads, amicable jailors, and a very sympathetic Pakistani lawyer. Too bad Sarabjeet didn’t meet any such people in Pakistan or he would have been alive today. Similarly, Kulbhushan Jadhav has become a shining example of Pakistani friendliness. His old mother and wife were stripped of their Hindu symbols like Sindoor, Mangalsootra and Bangles before meeting him, that too from across a glass wall. Even their sandals were taken off and they were fed to a crowd of ogling Pakistani Journalists.
SRK has a huge fan following in Pakistan. Sunny Deols and Akshay Kumars who have been routinely beating up Pakistani terrorists and ISI agents on the big screen remain unpopular stars. SRK is one of the most prominent supporters for Pakistani actors in Indian films. He supported Mahira Khan’s rights to work in Indian films.
SRK had turned down the offer to act in “Ek Tha Tiger” which was then offered to Salman Khan. The film was released in 2012 and became a super hit, but was banned in Pakistan. The director of the film Kabir Khan has also directed movies like Bajrangi Bhaijan and Phantom, which were both released in 2015. The filming of Phantom started in Nov 2013, while the shooting for Bajrangi Bhaijan started in Oct 2014. While Bajrangi Bhaijan was a superhit in Pakistan, the movie Phantom based on the novel “Mumbai Avengers” was banned by Pakistani Court on the plea by terrorist (now a prominent politician) Hafiz Saeed.
Looks like both Salman Khan and Kabir Khan took cue from the fate of the movies and hence stuck to more Pakistan Friendly scripts. The main aim of a Bollywood potboiler featuring a superstar is to make money. Aamir Khan’s PK that denigrates Hindu Gods and depicts Pakistanis as a friendly people was a big hit in Pakistan too. Karan Johar’s movies almost always feature NRIs as leads. Big Budget Indian movies are aimed at making overseas earnings. Movies that show Indians and Pakistanis behaving like sole-brothers and depict Pakistan as essentially a good country with good people would obviously fetch the much-needed money from Pakistani pockets. A textbook case of pure business. That’s also the reason why we have so many Pakistani actors in Bollywood, even as many talented actors in India keep living in oblivion. A Pakistani superstar in a big-budget Bollywood film brings Pakistani moviegoers to Cinema halls thereby making Indian moviemakers richer.
First Bajrangi Bhaijan and then Tiger Zinda Hai, both the films showed that Salman Khan and Kabir Khan have learnt the business fast. In April 2016, Kabir Khan faced severe and abusive protests at Karachi airport. The protestors were livid because of his film “Phantom”. Kabir Khan made it a point to say that he was a firm believer of the secular fabric of India and is an advocate of friendship between India and Pakistan, which led to the making of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. About Phantom, Kabir said it was a misrepresented film largely because of wrong marketing, adding that he didn’t see his film as a criticism of a country but some bad elements who “are everywhere”.
As a lover of art and cinema, I sincerely hope that talented actors and directors of Bollywood stop this over glorification of a rogue nation just to add few Crores to the total boxoffice collection of their movies. They should remember that it is the same nation that used Shahid Hemraj’s head as football, beheaded so many of soldiers, gave us Kargil when we offered them a hand of friendship, gave us Uri when PM Modi visited them personally, Tortured Shahid Saurabh Kalia to death, Tortured Sarabjit to Death and have been tormenting Kulbhushan Jadhav. They should remember that they are glorifying the chief sponsor of terrorism in India.