Controversy aftermath: New Delhi government invites Ghulam Ali for a show

Celebs take to Twitter to throw weight behind ghazal singer following Mumbai concert cancellation

Ians October 09, 2015
Shabana Azmi, Kailash Kher, Mahesh Bhatt and several others condemned the show cancellation and extended their gratitude to Ghulam Ali. PHOTO: FILE

NEW DELHI: Within days of Shiv Sena getting ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali’s show cancelled in Mumbai, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has invited him for a show in the Indian capital.

Kejriwal took to Twitter to talk about his conversation with Ali regarding the show. “Thanks for agreeing to do a program in Delhi in December,” he wrote.

The 75-year-old was scheduled to perform in Mumbai and Pune this week as part of the death anniversary tribute to singer Jagjit Singh. But the show in Mumbai was called off on Wednesday after the Shiv Sena threat.

Read: I'm not angry but very hurt. I have always got love in India: Ghulam Ali

The show cancellation has snowballed into a controversy, with celebrities from both countries criticising the development. Distinguished Indian personalities like actor Shabana Azmi, designer Wendell Rodricks and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said music knows no boundaries, while Sindh Board for Film Certification Chief Fakhre Alam hoped the Indian government will handle the issue “responsibly”.

“Are we at war with Pakistan? Have we severed diplomatic relations? Have we closed down our embassies? Then what justification is there to ban Ghulam Ali?” Azmi wrote on Twitter. “Ghulam Ali was to perform in commemoration of India’s beloved Jagjit Singh in gesture of goodwill. Ok to talk tough with Pakistani government not its artists.”

Echoing Azmi’s sentiments, Bhatt also criticised the move, saying cultural ties should not be snapped on the basis of any political dialogue between countries. “It’s a familiar nightmare that keeps on recurring in this part of our country... but even if talks are not taking place, let the civil society be given the right to keep their cultural ties intact through performing arts,” said Bhatt.

Meanwhile Alam said, “It is extremely sad and disappointing that art, music and sports are being subjected to politics of hate. I hope the Indian government will act responsibly and the world’s largest secular democracy will raise itself above people’s dietary choices.”

Ace fashion designer Wendell Rodricks said musical notes “should stay beyond the reach of governments”. He even tendered an apology on behalf of a majority of Indians.

“If tomorrow my fashion show gets cancelled by a group in Pakistan, it is their loss. Same here. Actually worse,”  a post on Rodricks’ Facebook page read. The arts should stay beyond the reach of governments and goon groups who cannot hold a musical note. Ghulam Ali, your wonderful voice is beyond all this petty politics. On behalf of a majority of Indians, we apologise. Please forgive them.”

Singer Kailash Kher, who has performed across the globe, said that “music, art and sports should be kept away from politics. An artist can be the biggest messenger of peace and harmony. The kind of respect that artists are given in India is way more than any other country. Love happens from both sides, because if it is one-sided then it is a game.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2015.

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