Cultural ties between India and Pakistan have resumed but the 26/11 Mumbai carnage still rankles in our minds. The return of Pakistani artistes to India has given rise to certain legitimate queries and concerns.
Addressing these issues was Sonu Nigam and Raahat Fateh Ali Khan at the press conference of Star Plus show 'Chhote Ustaad – Do Deshon Ki Ek Awaaz". Nigaam and Khan will adjudicate this show where a pair of Indian and Pakistani child will be competing against nine such pairs. No one doubts the show"s noble intentions, but when it comes to art and cinema, it"s always been a one-way traffic with India welcoming artistes from across the border.
“It"s not that we don"t want to invite Indian artistes, but the prevalent situation is Pakistan is not conducive to have them here. We are going through one of the worst phases with terrorism engulfing Pakistan. Our people have utmost respect, love, and respect for your artistes. In fact, they love Indian films/artistes more than their own. Bollywood has virtually destroyed our own industry. Our people want to see you stars only," said Pakistani singer Raahat Fateh Ali Khan.
Defending the influx of Pakistani artistes into India, Sonu Nigam said, “There are two brothers – one is rich while the other is poor. It is the latter who will have to look up to the former for help. There is no industry in Pakistan. They have to look up to us for help."
We"ve heard this explanation before. While we don"t object to Pakistani artistes gaining employment here, the problem is that what our country is getting in return – terrorism?
“I wouldn"t like to get into the politics of it. Look, I believe that you can"t change the mindset of an adult. The seeds of peace can be sowed in a young mind. The Pakistani kids, who are participating in the show, will be subject to Indian hospitality. They will spread the message when they return to Pakistan. You see the positive effect ten years later," replied India"s number one playback singer.
There"s never been any problem between civil populations of both the country, thus the peace message needs to percolate through the minds both in and across the border. Sadly that doesn"t seem to be happening.
“Yes, that"s right. But we aren"t clean too. We consider northeast states as part of our country, but we haven"t done anything for their development. How can then we claim that it"s our part", Nigam sighed.
Does that mean we"ve done the same thing in Kashmir?
“No, I"m not saying that. But the problem that we face is lack of good governance. That"s the reason we are facing such problem across the country," the singer chided.
Moving away from the politics, the principal concern facing us is that of the security of the Pakistani children. Post 26/11, few Pakistan artists were ordered to leave the country. Hasn"t the channel and the production taken a huge risk by inviting these kids here?
Star Plus creative director Monika Shergill acknowledged this concern, but this was risk they were willing to take. Shergill expressed confidence that nothing untoward would happen.