Pakistani ghazal maestro Ustad Ghulam Ali is a renowned musician, whose music has deep roots within the sub-continent. His ghazals have enchanted Pakistanis and Indians ever since he became a household name in the region, hence he enjoys fanfare in neighbouring India as well. However, on Wednesday, Ghulam Ali had to cancel his concert in Mumbai and Pune due to threats by rightist Indian political party Shiv Sena.
However, not everyone in India harbour the same sentiment towards Pakistani artists or the nation. Demonstrating neutrality and sense, Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt expressed disappointment over the threats issued from Shiv Sena and publicly criticised the cancellation of the concert.
“It’s a familiar nightmare that keeps on recurring in this part of our country and one has seen irrespective of the government in the seat of power, the peace activists of the civil society aiming for keeping cultural ties intact with Pakistan have to face roadblocks like this,” said Mahesh Bhatt to IANS over the phone.
Mahesh Bhatt was adamant that the civil society must be allowed to keep cultural contact alive between both countries, if level talks could not take place between the two countries.
“But even if level talks are not taking place, let the civil society be given rights to keep their cultural ties intact through the performing arts,” he added.
“During the Congress regime, we had to go through similar scenario where Pakistani actors and performers were obstructed from performing,” he said. “Then came this new government and in the beginning there were signals given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who sent an invitation to Nawaz Sharif, saying that they wish to bridge the distances that exist between the two countries and nothing much happened on that front.”
Ghulam Ali had also previously stated that he felt hurt and sad due to his concerts being cancelled in India. Mahesh Bhatt has visited Pakistan in the recent past, when he attended the Lahore premiere of ARY Films’ Jawani Phir Nahi Ani.