‘Film diplomacy’ for regionalism

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Nazar M Jumani

We have many indicators in our recent history that show sincerity of Pakistan towards regional stability. Kashmir solution in the period of Musharaf and acceptance by political leadership of Pakistan for misuse of their land and men by terrorists in Mombay Attacks are two big indicators. Now we must set aside all these issues because it is the time to go together to create awareness among masses on both sides about regionalism. As the hate against each other is inculcated by elements who don’t want to see South Asia stable.
Political stakeholders from both sides and diplomatic talks have been failed badly. Despite having potential to decrease hate feelings and gaps, news media, too, of both sides have failed in this regard, I would say, news media have deteriorated the situation adding fuel to the fire, only to improve their ranking for business.
We have in Pakistan some big channels that have soft corner for India. India has no channel that has ever tried to give good image of Pakistan in news to create awareness about regional stability or regionalism. India and Pakistan once tried ‘Cricket Diplomacy’ to normalize the relations. It was (timely) effective to bridge the gaps between both countries but it had no long life. That was past. From now onward, why should not ‘film diplomacy’ be introduced?
As films has been the most effective tool for the propagation of message throughout the world. Hollywood is still used for Western integration and Russian disintegration why not Bollywood or Lollywood for integration of South Asian region? It can be done on the platform of SAARC or otherwise. It is one of the goals of SAARC to promote culture through various tools among SAARC nations.
Bollywood is the best option to start this ‘goal’ as it is not only the largest film industry in the world but widely watched and liked in both the countries in particular and worldwide in general. In recent past, both the governments banned media of each other in their respective countries. In India extremist elements warned producers and directors to cast Pakistani artists in their ‘would-be’ projects. Films producers who had already cast Pakistanis in their movies were said to pay ‘fund’ of five crore (Indian) in account of Indian Army as a fine for casting Pakistani artists.
Bollywood was also banned in Pakistan. Hindi films were even banned from cable in Pakistan. Ultimately, sell in Dish and Digital System increased in Pakistan. One could easily observe while in train to Karachi from Lahore that almost all of homes along railway track were having DTHs and Dish on their roofs at the time of ban with direction set to eastern side. If we go three to four years back, we would know when Pakistani movie ‘Bol’ released in India, it flopped a movie of superstar Akshay Kumar in three northern states of India. It shows that Lollywood can be successful in Indian masses if it sets an agenda. Message through movies should be fruitful for an idea of regionalism.
‘Film Diplomacy’ must be a process, a serious process. Real issues should be highlighted in films that make the minds of masses for regionalism. Bold steps and hard work is needed in the process from the side of producers, directors and censor boards. SAARC should take initiative for this.
— The writer is a media researcher based in Hyderabad.
Email: nazarjumani@gmail.com