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Courting Pakistani Artistes Is Patriotism!

Courting Pakistani Artistes Is Patriotism!

By Vinod Mirani

MUMBAI, (IANS) – A judgment by a two-judge bench of the Bombay High Court comes as a bolt from the blue and has taken many followers of the Indian legal system and the film industry by surprise.

The matter relates to the casting of Pakistani actors in Hindi films and the High Court has given not only a judgement on the issue but has also held forth at length on the subject.

The case was filed by an actor, Faaiz Anwar Qureshi, as the brief refers to him, who took it upon himself to seek a ban on Pakistani artists from being assigned roles in the Hindi film Industry.

Some film trade associations are said to have banned or, rather, passed resolutions asking filmmakers to refrain from employing Pakistani performers.

I suppose all trade bodies have the right and duty to protect their members and asking their members to avoid casting Pakistani actors could well be considered a step in that direction.

I can’t seem to figure out how a court comes into the picture in such matters. It is a matter between an association and its members. And I believe that an association of a particular trade knows what is good for its members.

Having made the judgment that Pakistani actors should not be banned, or in any other such matters, does the court assume the responsibility for what may follow? Filmmakers try to cater to people’s preferences. Has the court considered the public sentiments regarding Pakistani participation in the Indian film industry?

This court ruling is dated October 20, that is, a few days after the India-Pakistan ODI World Cup match. The public sentiments and emotions riding with the match and the events that followed were there for all to see.

The courts must be aware that the Indian Premier League T20 cricket organizers have also stopped signing up Pakistani cricketers for this annual event. How about the courts making the same judgment applicable to IPL franchises?

What is curious about this matter is that, according to the petitioner, several bodies have banned Pakistani actors in Hindi films. That should settle the matter. But, out of the blue, a so-called artiste, Faaiz Anwar Qureshi, approaches the court to ban Pakistani actors! Who is this Faaiz Anwar Qureshi? What is his status in the film industry the participation of Pakistani actors is already banned, as he puts it, why did Faaiz Anwar Qureshi need to approach the court? What merit did the court find in this petition?

Most noteworthy is the court’s observation that the Cricket ODI World Cup is being held in India and the team from Pakistan is taking part only because of the appreciable positive steps taken by the Government in the interest of overall peace and harmony in the region.

One would imagine that it is India’s and the BCCI’s obligation to the International Cricket Council. With India playing hosts to the ODI World Cup to which Pakistan had to be invited, the decision has little to do with peace and harmony!

In its judgment, the court noted: “One must understand that in order to be a patriot, one need not be inimical to those from abroad, especially, from the neighboring country. A true patriot is a person who is selfless, who is devoted to the cause of his country, which he cannot be unless he is a person who is good at heart.”

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