However, all the bonhomie went for a toss in the aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai carnage. Fearing their security, Pakistani artists performing in India were asked to leave the country. One of them was allegedly told in a rough tone. That individual was none other than Shakeel Siddqui. Upon landing in Pakistan, Shakeel allegedly told a local TV channel that he was beaten up by Indian fundamentalists. Surprisingly, Siddiqui returned to India again, but found himself picking his return ticket soon.
Apparently, there"s a story-within-story here.
A source who is close to Shakeel, says, “Before Shakeel was told to leave this time, there"s a story attached to his visit. It seems post 26/11 he allegedly made unsavory comments against our country. This was aired by a very famous local Pakistani news channel. Officials from the Indian consulate in Pakistan happened to view these comments. When Shakeel applied for Indian visa, he was constantly rejected. Finally, it took the (Indian) TV channel, which provide him employment, to intervene and arrange for his visa.
The comedian has never been a favorite among Indian artists here too. If sources are to be believed, then Shakeel had once hit out against Indian legend and 'Comedy Circus" season 1 judge Johnny Lever for being too critical of his performances. “Back then, all that Johnny Lever had told him that his acts have been seen before in Pakistani play scripts. He wanted him to come up with something new, which till date he hasn"t. Shakeel hitting out against Lever was totally uncalled for", the source added.
The man himself was unavailable as he"s cooling his heels back home in Pakistan. Perhaps, we"ll have to surf through neighboring TV channels to see his reactions after being given an unceremonious farewell again.
In this industry there are no friends or enemies. That"s politics that works here. India and Pakistan share a chequered history, but artists from the two nations have always kept the politics aside and tired bridging divides. India, being the bigger and powerful neighbour, has provided employment opportunities to artists from across the border. We expect these artists to spread the goodwill when they return to their nation.