News & Views
WITH escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) has passed a resolution to ban Pakistani artists from working in India. ANI reported: “Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) passes resolution banning Pakistani actors and technicians in India till normalcy returns.” Earlier, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)-affiliate had set a 48-hour deadline for all Pakistani artists working in India to immediately leave the country. “We gave a 48 hour deadline to Pakistani actors and artists to leave India or MNS will push them out,” said Amey Khopkar, MNS Chitrapat Sena. Meanwhile, Fawad Khan has left India after receiving threats from extremists, and Shafqat Amanat Ali’s concert has also been cancelled. Earlier, renowned Pakistani singer Atif Aslam’s performance was also cancelled. It is, however, not the first time that Pakistani artists have been threatened by Mumbai-based political parties.
Shiv Sena in the past had forced noted ghazal singer Ghulam Ali to cancel his concert in Mumbai. Also in 2015, Indian extremist party Shiv Sena had threatened Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan from promoting their movies in Maharashtra. But despite these threats and bans on Pakistani artists, Pakistani TV channels continued to air Indian films, dramas and comedy programs. However there is redeeming feature. According to local media reports, Pakistan is not going to screen any Indian movie for now. The importers have also decided to not take rights of small budget movies after the screening of Ranbir Kapoor’s upcoming film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’. Also, the prominent artists and filmmakers from Pakistan film industry have decided to launch a protest campaign against the exhibition of Indian films. Perhaps threats from Indian extremists’ organizations and banning of Pakistani artists, is a blessing in disguise.
Indian movies, dramas and shows are a strong tool for promoting Indian culture in Pakistan, which directly targets our ideology and cultural values. Indian cultural invasion needs to be stopped through a strong national commitment to say no to Indian movies and Indian dramas in Pakistan. Federal Government is required to take cognisance of the situation, formulate a policy to counter cultural invasion and enforce it in letter and spirit. Media houses should also realize their responsibilities and discourage facilitating or proliferation of the Indian content. In fact, government had issued licenses to different channels with a view to earning revenue, and in the process showed utter disregard to the core values of our culture. Similarly, the media invaders were facilitated by some of the private TV channels through the projection of Indian films and display of foreign advertisements.
A few conscionable elements of civil society resisted, but those enjoying political, social and economic clout favoured liberal policy of showing foreign films and dramas. Foreign media tend to create a sense of suspicion amongst our youth who are passing through a formative stage of development and are at the initial phase of understanding their religious beliefs, cultural norms and core values. The aliens, through cartoons and animated caricatures capture Pakistani viewers and instill in them dissenting thought to challenge the teachings of Islam and traditions of Islamic culture. Indian films and dramas are openly shown by our cable networks, and Indian commercials are also being aired on our TV channels projecting Indian products and consumer goods. Civil society especially the youth and female audience are likely to develop brand loyalty for the Indian products as well as films and dramas.
It is worth noting that India does not allow telecast of Pakistani dramas and films in India. In August 2009, Indian daily The Asian Age had reported that the Indian government had banned Pakistani TV channels in India and it was also planning to establish high-frequency transmitters and towers in the bordering areas to stop transmission of Pakistani program. Indian government decision was taken as a precautionary measure to keep the new generation ignorant about other side of the story from Pakistani media debunking Indian propaganda against Pakistan. However, more disturbing is the fact that there is no dearth of the supporters of Indian channels in Pakistan despite the fact that the Indian media, news or entertainment tend to malign Pakistan and to dominate its culture rather than to entertain the audience. Apart from that Indian film industry frequently makes anti-Pakistan films in which Pakistan is projected as a villain country.
Pakistan-bashing, denigrating Pakistan and burning its flag are not uncommon in Hindi movies. Furthermore, such films are exempted from heavy taxes and win prestigious awards even if they fail at the box office or a total flop in Indian cinema. As far as the music is concerned, one can observe that some Indian songs include profane or sacrilegious lyrics. Apart from Hindi movies, the dramas presented by Indian media unnecessarily highlight Hindu rituals and colourful rites. It appears to be a conscious effort to win a cultural war with Pakistan. Indira Gandhi, former Indian prime minister had once boasted about India’s cultural victory over Pakistan. The tragedy is that the Bollywood gets the projection of its films from Pakistani media itself. Now it is not only limited to cable operators to air Indian films by violating copyright laws, but Pakistani cinemas also release Indian movies with the permission of the government.
More tragic is the fact that due to the absence of a clear-cut media policy some renowned private TV channels are also following suit. Some have gone so far to present dance competition shows in mimicry of Indian program, as if dance is a part of our culture. There is also a misconception among the supporters of Indian channels in Pakistan that both the countries share a common culture. It is pertinent to quote one of the speeches Quaid-i-Azam made in which he shed light on the separate culture of Muslims. He said, “We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportion, legal laws and moral code, customs and calendar, history and tradition, aptitudes and ambitions; in short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life”.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.