The ever contentious Indo-Pak relationship has led to further contention in the field of art with the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) recently declaring that no films featuring Pakistani actors, artists or technicians would release in theatres.
While this mostly covers single screens, which is not surprising, the ban is mostly the result of the fear of burning down theatres by violent members of right-wing political parties with their pseudo-patriotic propaganda and an underlying motive to hog the limelight. But that’s an entire issue completely.
The main result, however, of these recent cases, is the debate between whether to ban Pakistani artists or not, the debate about the very nature of art and debate about the true meaning of patriotism.
So those in support of the ban argue that the burden of war is not the soldier’s alone to carry. It is not a soldier’s personal fight; he is fighting for us, for the well-being of us. The main point raised by a former army major on a recent Facebook post is, how do you think a soldier would feel if he is fighting and sacrificing for his country at the LOC while filmmakers, businessman and others in India are going on about their business with Pakistan normally as if nothing has happened? There is an emotion called solidarity, and this solidarity can only be shown by banning Pakistani artists. Really?
While it may be true that for two nations leaning towards a state of war, boycotting one another completely might seem like a good solution, much like the Gandhian principles of non-cooperation; the issue, however, is not as simple as it sounds.
For art is a very complex subject. Whether or not art should be free from politics is quite a debate in itself. Charlie Chaplin once quoted, “Art, literature, entertainment has no religion and nation. However, artists, authors and entertainers do have religion and nation.” Art cannot exist in a vacuum, which is for sure.
We could allow politics and other factors to perhaps influence art if we go by the popular public opinion but letting them affect artists who are just innocent people out here to make a living by showcasing their talents is downright inhuman. This move to ban Pakistani artists is at the very least, progressive. But given the current state of affairs, the leftist ideologies are not something that might be the need of the hour. The need of the HOUR mind you.
Nations, however, are not run by emotion alone and continuing with the leftist ideals could well be a modernistic and mature response from a democratic country like ours. But then governments have to take the public opinion at large into consideration before taking any decision in such a touchy case.
The best and most modern, humanitarian way, however, would be to leave the creative industry alone, let the artists do their jobs and let the soldiers do their job. Do not let either’s ideology influence one another because they are working in very different fields of life.
Let your patriotism work towards improving the economic and living standards of the people of this country rather than merely chest thumping, slogan shouting and Pakistan hating hooliganism. For sadly, in reality, you do not really love India, you just hate Pakistan more!