Why must Fawad Khan go back?

Last Updated: Wed, Sep 28, 2016 13:08 hrs
Why must Fawad Khan go back?

(Image: Facebook/Fawad Afzal Khan)

Over the last few days, all the women who swore Fawad Khan was the best thing to happen to Bollywood since Technicolor have suddenly decided their nationalism is more important than their hormones. Somehow, this works out – in their heads – to Fawad Khan, who is currently starring in a series of formulaic films of which his face is arguably the saving grace, having to go back to Pakistan.

I suppose it is the most optimistic and idealistic of us who can claim surprise when people we’ve known for years, sometimes decades, out themselves on Facebook as rabid nincompoops. Their allegiances don’t matter – their only real allegiance, in coming up with such gems as holding Fawad Khan somehow responsible for the Uri attack, is to idiocy. In 2014, the country voted in favour of communalism over corruption. And since then, this particular stripe of idiocy has gained both currency and legitimacy. 

Do our passports or our places of birth make us responsible for the acts of terrorists and the comments of netas who share those markers with us? We are perhaps used to thinking this because of the suspicion with which most immigration-and-customs personnel greet us when we go to countries whose jobs have been ‘stolen’ by people with our passports, or whose landmarks have been bombed by people with our skin colours. And, somehow, we have imbibed not just their suspicion, but the rage of the average Trump supporter. 

We are clamouring to build a wall over which no cricketer or actor or musician or writer can climb. We are clamouring to forget all the reminders of a culture we once shared.

And we don’t even seem to realise how hypocritical that is.

Take the fact that India is currently divided into people who would rather die than be associated with, leave alone held responsible in some way for, the follies of the Nehru-Gandhi family or the rhetoric of the Sangh Parivar or both.

And when we voice such contempt for one or both of these, how can we possibly make a Pakistani actor a target after a terror attack that he has not been remotely suspected of masterminding?

A few years ago, the obscenely rich Indian Premier League franchises colluded to humiliate Pakistani players at the annual auction for no good reason. India had cut off cricketing ties with Pakistan, and the IPL had decided to join the party after the 2008 terror attack. The statement would be seen as more effective if it was made silently, in the presence of prized bowlers and powerful strikers of the ball, watched by the media. Pakistan was not cooperating in the investigation, and so the cricketers became symbols.

If the rot begins here, where will it travel?

First, we want the cricketers wearing enemy colours out of the country. Now, we want actors, who are in all probability playing the enemy of the enemy, out of the country. And once we get rid of Fawad Khan and Ali Zafar, what happens? Ban Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam? And then take it up a few notches, and ban Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Farida Khanum videos on YouTube? Censor the songs penned by Faiz Ahmad Faiz? Ban books written by Pakistani writers, starting with Manto, who lived most of his life in an undivided land?

This churlishness is not just illogical and embarrassing, but heartbreaking. For years now, sections of the public from both countries have led campaigns to make travel between India and Pakistan easier, to make it possible for the average Indian and Pakistani to meet without jumping through a million hoops. At such a time, how disgusting is it that we want to cut off the ties that remind us of all that we have in common? 

It is a cliché that art has no borders; it is also wishful thinking.

Somehow, after decades, a provision was made for artists to travel between India and Pakistan with less fuss, and that is what we are seeking to destroy.

Cinema may not be the highest form of art, and certainly the brand of commercial cinema that has imported the better-known Pakistani talent is not, but it is the most populist. And when the cries begin for these artists to leave, where could they lead?

If the divorce between our two nations rips through everything from cricket to literature, can we claim to have any winners?

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Read more at: http://www.sify.com/news/student-suicides-our-culture-of-expectation-is-to-blame-news-columns-qfclbTdhdabea.html
Nandini is a journalist and humour writer based in Madras. She is the author of Hitched: The Modern Woman and Arranged Marriage.