NEW DELHI: Film-maker Ashwni Dhir says he is not against the idea of casting Pakistani talent in Indian projects but feels they should speak about the issues creating tensions between the two countries.
Dhir finds it weird that there are debates whether Pakistani artists should be allowed to work in Bollywood or not. “I feel very weird about these bans. If you want to ban something, ban the air and the water that comes from outside of the country. That can be more infectious than the people,” said Dhir.
Adding further, Dhir said, “I am not for or against the idea of a ban. If I am given an option, I would prefer Indian actors to act in my film. But if I think that a particular Pakistani actor is really good and is not against Indian integrity, and wants to speak for the truth, then I have no issues casting him.”
There were calls to ban Pakistani talent from working in the Indian film industry in 2016 when cross-border India-Pakistan tension spilled over into the entertainment world. Some Indian political outfits imposed a ban on Pakistanis and a few Pakistani theatres pulled down Indian movies from their big screens. The ban came after the September 18, 2016 terror attack that killed 19 Indian soldiers in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.
The issue resurfaced last month when union minister Babul Supriyo said that Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice in Ishtehaar, from the Bollywood film Welcome to New York, must be dubbed by someone else. Supriyo also demanded a temporary ban on Pakistani artists in Bollywood.
Dhir strongly believes that Pakistani artists must oppose terrorist attacks instead of keeping quiet.
“Be it any country – India, Pakistan, Afghanistan or the US – you should speak up about it. Other than this, I do not have any issues with Pakistani actors,” he said.
Dhir is known for directing Son of Sardaar, Guest In London and One Two Three. He has also produced well-known shows like Chidiya Ghar and Lapataganj. He has also created, written and directed Har Shaakh Pe Ullu Baithaa Hai, about a corrupt and funny politician in his madcap world.