How about returning the favour Pakistan?

Updated: Mar 28, 2012, 11:06 AM IST

Gayatri Sankar

Even as the two arch-rivals, India and Pakistan have been desperately trying to talk peace on the political front, the world’s largest film industry based in the Indian financial capital is busy laying foundation for a profound link.

Ironically, our neighbour tops the “hate list” when cricketing geniuses hit the field. But the world of celluloid loves them thoroughly. And that is when boundaries are erased and arms long for an embrace to discuss brotherhood!

Hindi cinema has a long standing history of involvement of Pakistani artists.

Noor Jehan (1940s) was one of the most sought after actress-singers of her times who migrated to Pakistan post partition. Her grand daughter Soniya Jehan kept the tradition alive by making her Bollywood debut with an Indian film ‘Taj Mahal’ in 1999.

Actor-producer-director Feroz Khan introduced Nazia Hassan to Bollywood. None could have made ‘Aap Jaisa Koi Meri Zindagi Mein Aaaye’(‘Qurbaani’,released in 1980) a chartbuster but the 15-year old singer. Sadly, the young lady with a scintillating voice succumbed to lung cancer at a very young age. She remains the youngest winner of the Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer award till date.

Light eyed beauty Salman Agha too became a huge hit in India. She graced the silver screen as an actress in the 1980s and also worked as a playback singer.

Randhir Kapoor introduced the pretty Zeba Bakhtiyar in his father’s dream project ‘Heena’ in 1991. The film was declared a hit as it spoke about a romantic alliance between a Pakistani girl and an Indian boy.

A similar love story was in the making in real when US based Pakistani Somy Ali flew to India to meet Salman Khan. She wanted to realize her dream of meeting the hunk and eventually turned an actress.

Even Pakistani cricketer Mohsin Khan couldn’t stop the temptation of making it to the silver screen. He tried his hands at acting in the 1980s and ended up marrying the very beautiful Reena Roy. His marital union with Roy ended on an unpleasant note and so did his acting career.

Time and again, the Indian film industry that includes the showbiz world from down south has been hiring artists from across the border. Who could have ever thought that Adnan Sami could sing Tamil songs and enthrall audiences down south with his “typically” Dravidian voice quality?

It was never a distant dream for artists from Pakistan to come and perform here, in India. And paying a visit to India nowadays is like traveling from Lahore to Rawalpindi for them. All they need to do is cross the Line of Control (can we say both literally and otherwise?)

Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and many others are doing brisk business in India and have created a niche for themselves. And we have welcomed them with open arms. So what if there are a few people like playback singer Abhijeet who has opposed the hiring of Pakistani artists, there are takers for them aplenty!

There was a time when filmmakers in India were keen to make films that dealt with Indo-Pak enmity. But off late, films that show Pakistan as a foe are on the decline and diehard Indians will have to do with the likes of ‘Gadar’, ‘Border’ and ‘Sarfarosh’ to hear some hardcore anti-Pakistani dialogues to quench their thirst of nationalism. Remember Sunny Deol saying “Humara Hindustan Zindabad Tha, Zindabad Hai Aur Zindabad Rahega’ with utmost patriotism and conviction? Gone are those days…for we now speak about peace and “bhaichara” at least in the world of celluloid.

The film ‘Heena’ unfolded the romance between an Indian boy and a Pakistani girl and so did Yash Raj’s ‘Veer Zaara’. Indo-Pak love stories are on a rise. Even the newly released ‘Agent Vinod’ shows an Indian spy falling for a Pakistani beauty who works for ISI. And controversial Pakistani starlet Veena Malik seems to be highly inspired by such films. The lady is on the verge of recreating a “Veer Zaara” in real by taking part in an Indian TV reality show that will help her find a life partner!

As many as 70,000 bachelors (mostly from India) have sent in their application to get married to Veena. That goes to show how much India adores Pakistanis. Now whether or not the lady manages to find a suitable groom for herself is something we will have to wait and watch but it will be interesting to see if an apolitical Veena’s matrimonial union with an Indian will pave the way for a new Indo-Pak peace process or not!

Coming back to real life, there is absolutely no harm in extending a hand of friendship. But do they reciprocate the same way is a big question.

‘Euphoria’ lead singer Palash Sen was recently denied a ‘No Objection Certificate’ by the Interior Ministry of Pakistan for performing at the Lahore University of Management Studies.

A very disappointed Palash ended up saying, “How come their artistes are here all the time? If their ministry is so strict, why is ours so lenient?”

Earlier classical singer Shubha Mudgal was denied a visa to perform in Pakistan. And there are many others who were denied access to the neighbouring country.

And wonder how many more Indians would be denied entry?

The influx of Pakistani artists has certainly erased distances between the two countries and enabled people-to-people contact. But when our people are given cold response it forces one to think if the efforts India is putting in is worth the partial or little response from the other end. Remember it takes two hands to clap.

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