Actor Salman Khan on Friday spoke in support of Pakistani actors and other artists in India. He said, “They are artistes, not terrorists. It is the government who gives them permits and visas.” His remarks come a day after the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association passed a resolution to “ban” Pakistani actors and technicians from shooting in India till “normalcy” returned.
Renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal also spoke in favour of Pakistani actors, saying they had nothing to do with their country’s government. “[Pakistani] artistes come because they are called for some project. What is their fault?” Benegal said, adding that they are not against the people of Pakistan, and the matter was between the two governments.
The remarks by the two Indian film personalities have come even as some entertainment companies in Pakistan have suspended the screening of Bollywood movies, according to Firtspost. Mandviwalla Entertainment said it would suspend showing Indian films in its theatres "till normalcy" resumed. Meanwhile, film distributor IMGC Global Entertainment withheld the release of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, saying it could have anti-Pakistan elements in its story with respect to cricket. However, Islamabad has not yet issued an official directive in this regard.
Last week, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena asked all Pakistani artists to leave India, and threats were issued to Pakistan singer Shafqat Amanat Ali in Bengaluru. Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya had also criticised the Hindi film industry for what he called “breeding and feeding” Pakistani artists.
The ban will not apply to movies that have already been made, like the upcoming Ae Dil Hai Mushkil or Raees, but to future projects. The MNS had also demanded that Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan be replaced in Raees. President of MNS’ film wing Amey Khopkar said, “The day Pakistan will stop attacking our country, we will extend the hand of friendship. We do not have anything against art but the artistes who are employed in India remained mum on the terror attack in Uri.”
The announcement came hours after India announced it had conducted “surgical strikes” on “terror” camps along the Line of Control with Pakistan. Relations between India and Pakistan soured after the militant attack in Kashmir’s Uri on September 18, where 18 soldiers died. The countries also took on each other at the United Nations General Assembly.