Dear India, you can #BanPakArtists all you want – we will soar regardless! Love, #PakDontCare

Published: March 2, 2018
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Pakistan’s multi-talented performers do not need any validation from across the border – their work speaks for itself.

On February 22, 2018, the Federation Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) unanimously agreed to ban Pakistani artists and technicians from working in films and TV serials made by Indian producers in any language. This decision was of course made in light of growing tensions and the deteriorating relations between the two countries as of late. 

Every country is entitled to take action based on their political reasoning, and justify it through patriotism. If India wants to do so as well, so be it; it has the right to do so. However, once again we see that art too has been unfairly politicised.

In the past, gems of the Pakistani industry have shone brightest through their performances across the border, winning the hearts of the masses. Be it Ali Zafar vibrantly bringing life to characters with his exceptional acting; Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who have entranced everyone with the magical intonations of their voice; or Fawad Khan, whose effortless charm wooed Indians and Pakistanis alike and made him a heartthrob across the border as well. And these are just the men! How can we forget our leading ladies who have so phenomenally left their mark in Bollywood? Mahira Khan, our industry’s queen who was rightly paired with Bollywood’s King Khan, and Sajal Aly, whose intensity and versatile expressions shook audiences as she starred opposite the late Sridevi. Then of course there is Saba Qamar, who became the first Pakistani nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her immaculate performance in Hindi Medium.

However, despite the stars of the Pakistani industry simply doing what they do best and exceeding all expectations across the border, the reality needs to be accepted. Our talent is no longer welcome across the border, and is being made a victim of sheer prejudice.

India’s ban on Pakistani talent is a wake-up call for Pakistani channels to set aside Indian media content and focus on their own national media content and on promoting new talent, both of which the country is overflowing with. Our film industry is at its full bloom currently, along with our dramas flourishing by the day. Both of these can most definitely be aired and suffice for the masses to view instead of Indian content. In fact, the Pakistani industry’s golden era of our yesteryears is so remarkable that to date they remain national favourites! It would be a breath of fresh air and a revival of lost cultural values if our classic films and dramas were to be aired on our channels yet again.

Thus, it is absolutely incomprehensible why the “achievements” of our Pakistani celebrities are believed to be elevated if they work for Bollywood. Yes, performing internationally is a matter of pride for artists in any country, but it is important to note that Pakistan’s multi-talented performers do not need any validation from across the border – their work speaks for itself.

I got in touch with a couple of the members of our industry, and here’s what they have to say about this ban:

Armeena Khan:

“Every country has good and bad people. This decision seems to be driven by extremists, yet again coercing decent people into religious or nationalistic policies that perpetuate division and hatred. Art and artists do the opposite. We transcend borders, and through our craft bring people together and promote love. This is dangerous for the extremists because it undoes all their work. The ban itself is purely symbolic and these difficult conditions for the Pakistani artists in India have actually served to bolster Pakistan’s entertainment industry over the past. We should not reciprocate, as it’s about as symbolic as banning Argentinian artists from working here. Finally, in the grand scheme of things, does it actually make a difference to us? I’ll leave that to you.”

Imran Raza Kazmi:

“Art has no boundaries. I have been incorporating Indian talent in my films, from editors to singers; they are mostly from across the border. In fact, my film editor from India is actually like a brother to me. Our relationships across the border and vice-versa cannot really be made to end. In an era of globalisation an exchange of talent should be encouraged rather than the opposite. I believe that the Indian government has taken a very strict action regarding the matter and they should definitely think over it. This will only give heed to more hatred rather than improve ties between the two nations.”

Moreover, other celebrities have also commented on the ban:

Finally India banned all type services provided by Pakistanis in Indians cinema industry,Now Let's See How Do We React…

Posted by Shamoon Binzubair Abbasid on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

If all the actors unite like the unions all over the world, it will be a matter of just one day, boycott all the…

Posted by Iffat Umar on Tuesday, February 27, 2018

As a Pakistani artist I feel so happy about a step taken by Pakistani state officials. Above picture: India officially bans Pakistani artists Below picture: Pakistani government announces first ever film policy. Highlights of our new policy: Establishment of finance fund and a film academy, building of film studios, restoration of the Directorate of Films and Publications, abolition of duty on import of film equipment, film censor fee and sales tax, inclusion of artists in the health scheme, and 70% rebate to foreign film producers on travelling allowance and eatables. According to the policy, only Pakistani films would be screened on national holidays. Pakistan Zindabad! I swear to work harder than ever before and show the world what great cinema we can make just like we are lightyears ahead of (them) in our TV. #zahidahmed #pakistanfilmpolicy #proudmoment

A post shared by Zahid Ahmed (@zahid.ahmed.official) on

Despite the never-ending tension between India and Pakistan, Bollywood’s movies and stars have been whole-heartedly accepted by Pakistanis regardless of political conflict. However, in the present situation, India has announced that it will “stand by their security forces and their families”, as their “nation comes first”, per the press release by FWICE. As Pakistani artists pose such an elevated threat to India’s national security, they have subsequently been banned.

If art and artists are now a means of national security, then Pakistan should take India’s lead and put its own nation first. Although the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) in Pakistan has banned Bollywood’s most recent release, Pari, promptly after India’s ban, however, the reasons provided by the CBFC do not suggest a deterioration of ties to be behind this decision. Nevertheless, considering the current events, Pakistan should definitely initiate the step to ban Indian content on our TV screens and their films in our theatres. Atif can already be seen taking a stand against India banning Pakistani artists by refusing to promote his upcoming Bollywood song Sehmi Hai Dhadkan.

At the same time, our actors are working in local projects, as Ali will be next seen in Teefa in Trouble, Fawad in Maula Jatt 2, while other stars like Saba have seen incredible success with productions like Baaghi.

Make no mistake, being banned in India does not mean no work for Pakistani artists. 

This is not a matter of debating whether art is obliged to be confined by borders, because realistically India has proven otherwise. However, Pakistan banning Indian content and artists would be a move prioritising Pakistan, while also showing that Pakistan is not dependent on Indian media either, the way it once used to be. As far as the art of acting, phenomenal scripts and entertainment is concerned, no one can ever take that away from Pakistan. Whether a country bans us or not, we will soar regardless, because #PakDontCare!

Hira Hyder

Hira Hyder

The author is a journalist who strives to be a voice for those who struggle to voice themselves. She believes that any obstacle in life can be battled by the right amount of spirituality, positive energy and chocolate! She tweets @HiraHyder (twitter.com/HiraHyder)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • totochan

    Well, you surely do care since you wrote such a huge diatribe. lolRecommend

  • Veer Singh

    Keeping the ban aside, I’ve noticed that Pakistani media has a habit of grossly exaggerating the value of Pakistani artists in the Indian film industry. While Fawad Khan & Ali Zafar have been appreciated for one or two good performances (Fawad in Kapoor & Sons and Ali in Tere Bin Laden), they have never been “heart throbs” or achieved celebrity status in India. Atif Aslam is also a mediocre singer & while Rahat Ali Khan is good, his appeal is limited to his genre of Qawwali type songs.Recommend

  • Vinay Dua

    Has the grapes season arrived? I see a lot of sour grapes kind of messages.Recommend

  • Sane sid

    Okay for the sake of self respect stop seeking work in Indian industry…….Why not begin with stop watching Indian Content completely……. the thing is ….. Indian side is so glittery for some people…. patriotism goes down the drain………. BTW some Pakistani artist are good….an honest Indian comment……..CheersRecommend

  • vinsin

    Partition is reality and based on TNT artists from both the sides should refrain from working in each other film industry. Art may not have boundaries but both nation and artists do have. Those who dont believe they can always should against TNT. Let India promote Natyasastra and Hinduism and we hope that Pakistan do not imitate Hindu culture.Recommend

  • Amra

    Yet another powerful article. Very well written.
    💯 % agreedRecommend

  • abhi0978

    Dear Pakistan,

    We request you to close our embassies in retaliation and cut of all ties to india since our govt doesnt listen to us directly. We will be very happy then.

    regards,
    An indianRecommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Aapne do baat dil pe leli. Chalo koi nahi, please plead to all your “famous” and “Talented” Pakistanis not to be part of any bollywood venture again. Hopefully they would listen to you and not run to India again for few dollars and hurt the ego of millions of Pakistanis. :).Recommend

  • Zam Tube

    Film and TV fraternities should take ( KHUSH KAY NAHKUN ) and get themselves distinguished by having pent up talents known all over the world …Recommend

  • Sunil

    Stop crying. We do not want anything to do with Pakistan. I hope we close our borders and have no diplomatic ties either.Recommend

  • Jamshed Mir

    Well written article… Pakistani artists are suffering on both fronts from Indian bans as well as Pakistani channels ignoring them and continuing to bank on indian content. Artists need to unite and for a strong body as well as support moves to reduce indian content from cable and tv channels.Recommend

  • arfaa

    very funny article. There are only 3 big cinema industry in world. 1. Hollywood, 2. Bollywood, 3. Hong Kong movie industry then may be nigerias nollywood. you guys are overestimating yourself. film making requires money and talent which pakistan does not have. i have seen CHAIN AAYEE NAA…your latest movie. and i cant stop laughing…Recommend

  • Xahid

    Yes, you’re absolutely right about #PakDontCare!, but I guess its time to wake up and start caring each other.Recommend

  • Ilias Ismil

    India doesn’t care and we are not holding our breath for relationship to get better between the two countries. Since you have thrown your lot with China it’s only going to get worst between us.Recommend

  • Kind Balee

    Well said. Absolutely true.Recommend

  • Khadija

    See I don’t get it; you’re berating Indian authorities for banning Pakistani artists and for politicizing art, and in the same breathe you’re following Indian footsteps and calling for a reciprocal ban. Hate begets hate, let’s not go crazy, let them ban our artists, our artists really don’t need India to prove their mettle, but by reiterating Indian authority decisions let’s not prove to the world that we can’t think for ourselves and that we just want to reciprocate their decisions with the same inanity.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    India bans Pakistani artists because they fear from Pakistan’s talent, that they will surpass Indian artists.Recommend

  • Vin P

    But Pak artists haven’t been banned. Check Sajal Aly – she says she almost got adopted by Sridevi who treated her as her own daughter…Recommend

  • Vin P

    We love the artists.. And now have Adnan Sami as one of our own!!Recommend

  • Mohinder sandhu

    I can understand your pain, because I too want people from all over the world come to bombay and display their talent.Indian films or South asian films will be much more enriched and huge.The banning of pakistani artists may sound unfortunate, but it is, in fact a sort of protest against the policies of pakistan in the whole region. Ask afgani , iranian Indian or even bangladeshi, they all have same complaint against pakistan. TERRORISM. There were many in the film industry whose near and dear ones were murdered in bombay attacks, pakistans response from many corners was– india did it itself to defame pakistan. That is rubbing salt on deep wound. Indians on other hand welcomed so many artists from 70’s issued visas for medical in spite of the fact india suffered from terrorism originated from your country.STOP terrorism and things will change quicker than you can imagine.If pakistanis blame india for terrorism in there country then please check who is gonna be black listed by FAFTRecommend

  • LS

    As usual punching above their weight, over estimating your own worth. Here are the facts:
    1) Ban was already there it was just extended in February this year.
    2) If pakistan had talent it would already been shown on international (out of the Indian subcontinent) stage (very few of the pakistani artist had consistent success and that was limited to India and only ONE name qualifies there and that is Rahat – Rest were one time wonder or average at best)
    3) Paksitanis who got the role because most of the time there wasn’t an option or other Indian actors refused the role. Hindi medium (Most Indian actors refused the role because none of them wanted to be mother) or in Mom (Sajal was simply chosen because the Dangal girls weren’t available) and so on…
    4) Bollywood has plenty of talent diversity with actors from all over the world, not just pakistan. Only advantage with pakistan is that they don’t need to be taught language and can work for cheap.

    So please don’t overplay your “Talent” card because talent is automatically recognized around the world in this day and age and I haven’t seen any pakistani on global stage doing anything of worth. I will exclude Kumail because he himself made and played the movie…Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    Is that the lie you guys tell yourself to sleep better? Sweet-dreams!Recommend

  • Raj_1971

    Good one!Recommend

  • Fahad Hassan Khan

    ordinary ppl do care abt self respect however in a certain category of individuals MONEY is GOD, they do not have any concern with self respect… be it a few artist or players willing to play IPL….
    forget abt india / pak, self respect demands that “when somebody turns door at u, u must never look at that door again”….Recommend

  • twister286

    Last time Indian movies were banned in Pakistan in a self-imposed move by the cinema owners, it lasted all of a few weeks before they backtracked, because they soon realised that people aren’t going to line up to pay Rs.500 to watch movies like Rassta, Parchi, Mehrunisa V Lub U and so on…Recommend

  • Sane

    Indians have Pakistan phobia. Even their local politics revolves around hating Pakistan.Recommend

  • Gp65

    Neither Fawad nor Ali Zafar have given a solo hit which Ranbeer Kapoor, Arjun kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Siddharth Malhotra, Shahid Kapur, Tiger Shroff and Varun Dhawan have. In any case, film producers would like to source the best talent they can, so insecurity from artistes would not pose a barrier to them. The ban is not from Indian government but Indian motion pictures producers association. This came in the aftermath of Uri when none of the Pak artistes working in India were willing to condemn the terror attack. They were not asked or expected to criticize or blame their country – simply condemn the terror attack – and yet they were unwilling to do so.Recommend

  • Sane

    You couldn’t stop laughing as this is comedy movie. Many thanks for liking.Recommend

  • Sane sid

    Have you ever seen an Indian seeking work in Pakistan……?????Recommend

  • Sane

    All legendary actors of India have/had roots in Pakistan.Recommend

  • abhi0978

    Those roots were in a land called India. Pakistan was born after actors were born.Recommend

  • gp65

    Dilip Kumar aka Yusuf Khan, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, Mohammed Rafi were born in British India. They were already based in Mumbai at the time of partition and preferred to stay in Mumbai – yes even Yusuf Khan and Mohammed Rafi. No credit for their success goes to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sher Khan

    Love from PakRecommend

  • Hijazi

    Hindus love Muslim artists, the most prominent Indian artists are Muslims. Indian politicians are scared of their people which may request Pakistan to take up their government as injustice cannot last long. Historically, Indians welcomed Muslims, they lived under Muslims peacefully for centuries, now they want another savior. Be polite with people of India, sooner they will fall for Pakistan. Injustice under the name of cast system, cannot go very far.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Bollywood makes some great movies, like Piku, Liar’s Dice, I.D, Total
    Siyapa, Queen, Tanu weds Manu, funny and Academy Award calibers. But
    they are rare. The rest are just drivel/pablum, to entertain two billion, mostly
    illiterate people.
    So sorry. But majority of Bollywood movies are aping Western Culture. Of
    their former masters, the British Raj or their current lords, the Trump Govt.
    There is also a spate of of extremists/terrorists, that are holding Bollywood hostage. Ask Bhansali, Karan Johar what they think.
    And how much they had to pay to get their movies released. With Marashtra
    Navnirman Sena, Shiv Sena, RSS demanding crores in ransom, before they
    allow movies with Pak actors, in them, to be released. Sickening.
    Also brown Hindustanis trying to pass themselves as Americans, simply “ain’t
    going to happen”. Once you see the peddle/auto rickshaws, the cows swarming
    the streets, the monkeys overhead in the electric wires, all in the background,
    the rented dime a dozen blond blue eyed dancers from London, doing the wild gesticulations that pass for song and dance routines….well, the magic disappears.
    O, Madhubala, Nimmi, Vajantimala, Nargis, Raj Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman where
    art thou! Dilip Kumar. Saw them all on You Tube, Netflix,…now they were
    real..in a class by themselves.Recommend

  • Ayesha Tariq

    I wonder why Pakistani artists aren’t permanently banned in India? Secondly, they don’t want our artists to work in India, but their bhookey producers still wanna release Indian films in Pak to earn money from us. Hypocrites!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, see, how many embassies are there?
    More than one? Please, do tell. [No multiple embassies
    allowed, in one country] So kindly have the extra diplomats
    pack their blankets and pillows and go back.
    On the Samjhauta Express. Hope it still runs.Recommend

  • Patwari

    You can moan and groan, and disguise your Hindutva laced
    pride under an absolute fake diatribe. The truth is just the
    opposite.Recommend

  • Patwari

    And donkeys can fly. And Swamis and Sadhus can do the Rope Trick,
    and lay on a bed of nails, and there are Unicorns in the Hindustani forests.
    And Bharat discovered plastic surgery 5,000 years ago [Modi Sarkar, Himself,
    said so in Bombay, when opening a clinic there]
    Plus, Maharashtra Navnirman, RSS, Shiv Sena does not demand crores
    in ransom [or they will hold a movie hostage].Recommend

  • Patwari

    No, that’s the mantra the Pakistanis invoke, to bear
    the intolerable, hardly bearable, Hindustani actors
    so called acting, that pass for art in stupefying Bharati
    masala movies, creating a demand for billions of rupees
    in refunds…..
    So sorry. Long sentence. Did it confuse you?Recommend

  • Patwari

    The Hindustani govt. wont even allow Sikhs, Hindu pilgrims
    to visit Pakland. How will Hindustanis seek jobs….?
    Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    Firstly, I’m not hindu & secondly who knows the truth about India? Me, an Indian or you, a biased Pakistani sitting in Pakistan & who has probably never been to India in his/her life!Recommend

  • Sane

    I didn’t say that credit for their success goes to Pakistan. You are full of hate against Pakistan. Pakistan keeps biting you every day every minute.Recommend

  • kartik

    Where is the problem then? Make your own movies, grow your own film industry.Recommend

  • Leonard Harrison

    Well, this whole discussion is basically nonsense as I have seen both Indian and Pakistani movies and could not really tell the difference between them at all. All these movies are based on love affairs, item songs, songs in general and horrible acting. I do not think that there is one good actor or actress between these two nations. The old movies from both countries were of good quality and seemed to be story-centered. I have closely followed the entertainment industry of both countries and watched the demise of a strong Pakistani drama industry and a strong Indian film industry. Everything that remains today(actors/actresses, movies) are all dreadful and monotonous.Recommend

  • Patwari

    So sorry. Banned last 70 years you say? You see your conundrum?
    The majority movies are so bad, the public has to be protected, from
    the mindless pablum. Must admit there are some great actors in Bharat.
    Amir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Dilip Kumar [Yusuf Khan]
    Shabana Azmi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi, Naseeruddin Shah, Nimmi…not to forget Deepika, Sonakshi, Akshay, Rani, Vidhya, Kajol…
    And the dear departed Meena Kumari [Mahjabeen Bano], Madhubala
    [Mumtaz Jehan], Nargis [Fatima Rashid]…
    Hope you get the picture.Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    No I don’t get the picture because you keep contradicting yourself. First you say Indian movies & actors are bad but then you say Indian actors are good and you continue to watch Indian movies though there’s no compulsion for you to do so. Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    I condemn parties like Shiv Sena etc who resort to violence as do a vast majority of Indians. But your argument is irrelevant & pointless because neither do parties like Shiv Sena conduct any terrorism in Pakistan nor do any Indian actors work in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Gp65

    Am virulently opposed to MNS and SS. Never been a member of RSS though do support BJP. Oppose all bigotry.
    With that said, you will find that RSS has never been involved in ransom. Also demand for ransom is even rarer than the movies you listed that you liked. Though of course even one times is one times too many.Recommend

  • Gp65

    How so? Fawad and Ali Zafar have not had a single solo hit. This has nothing to do with Hinduttva. SRK, Salman and Amir are not Hindus and nor is Katrina.
    Atif sings ok but the notion that Indian industry is dependent on him can be rebutted easily by checking that he has barely sung around 50 songs in Bollywood in 13 years – a period during which at least 5000 songs would have been recorded.
    RFAK is very good indeed but only at niche songs. He is not as versatile as Sonu Nigam, Shaan or Arijit.Recommend

  • Sane sid

    who do you have?????Recommend