Jumping the gun: To leave India, one has to be there in the first place

Indian rightwingers may be calling for exit of Pakistani artists, but few are aware where they actually are

Rafay Mahmood/Ali Raj September 28, 2016
Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan and Ali Zafar have been in Pakistan for the last several months. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: While escalation in military tensions along the Pakistan-India border may still be a longshot, escalation between the two countries on social media has certainly taken a hilarious turn. Giving in to war hysteria, some in Pakistan’s currently belligerent neighbour, in hopes of attracting attention, have started calling for the heads of Pakistan artists currently making a mark in India.

While few take seriously what India’s hardline Hindu nationalist parties come up with every now and then, an Indian journalist recently wrote an open letter urging the country’s authorities to throw out actor Fawad Khan in response to the attack in Uri.

Taking cue from his tirade, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) handed Pakistani artists a 48-hour ultimatum to leave the country.

However, this demand begs an important question; how can you leave a country if you are not there in the first place?

India’s leading English-language daily The Hindustan Times even went as far as claiming that Fawad silently left the country in response to threats from the MNS and other quarters. “Our source reveals that Fawad, who was in India until recently, flew out to Pakistan. MNS has particularly targeted Fawad’s upcoming film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, claiming that they wouldn’t allow the release of the film, slated for Diwali,” it said in a report published on Tuesday.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, however, a close friend of Fawad revealed that the Khoobsurat star has been in Pakistan for the past month and a half. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said that Fawad has been “in and around Lahore for the most part” as his wife is expecting. “He only went to India for a day almost three weeks ago and was recently in Bangkok for a shoot,” the friend added.

Mahira Khan is another Pakistani actor who is making waves in India. Her tent-pole Bollywood project Raees is set to hit screens next year but like Fawad, she too is not in India and is having a good time in her hometown Karachi.

A source close to the Pakistani diva said, “Mahira was in Lahore recently to attend the launch of Indian jewellery brand Diva’ni. But yes, she has been here [Karachi] only, reading scripts offered to her.”

Actor-singer Ali Zafar, who frequents India regularly for both film and music-related projects, is another Pakistan artist threatened to leave the neighbouring country. However, like Mahira, even though his film Dear Zindagi – which also stars Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt – is set for a November 25 release, he himself is not currently within the territorial bounds of India.

Having returned from touring the United States and Canada in the first week of September, Zafar got immediately busy with his Defence Day song collaboration with Atif Aslam. Of late, he has been making many public appearances in Pakistan, the most notable being his Magnum Party performance where made a live painting on stage, using melted chocolate. “He has been busy working on a number of Pakistani projects, which include both films and music,” a member of his management team said.

Similar information was given out by the teams of Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. While the former last visited India two months ago, he was recently seen at a get-together of artists at drummer Farhad Humayun’s place in Lahore.

Riding high on the success of his Coke Studio 9 songs, most notably his collaboration with qawwal Amjad Sabri, Rahat has not visited India in a long time. Ever since he was money laundering allegations were made against him in India, he has been recording songs in Pakistan and Dubai only.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2016.


Waseem A | 5 years ago | Reply Watched an Interview where Ali Zafar was asked about the relationship between India and Pakitsan and he started to sob. It was all an act to show how much we love each other. People will do anything for money. Why would you start crying when asked that question.
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