February 23, 2020
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'He's A Great Artiste, Pity He's From Pakistan'

Uddhav Thackeray is unfazed even as the Sena's disruption of the Ghulam Ali concert stirs up a controversy. Excerpts from an interview:

'He's A Great Artiste, Pity He's From Pakistan'

Your strident stand against Ghulam Ali has not gone down too well with the people...

On the one hand you have the Ghauri missile trained on you, on the other you have Ghulam Ali performing here. How can both coexist? If the sound of Ghulam Ali can reverberate in your ears, why not the screams of people being killed because of Pakistan.

What about talks between Pakistan's ambassador and Bal Thacke-ray to improve Indo-Pak relations?

When the ambassador talked of better ties, my father made it clear that it was totally dependent on Pakistan. There are no two ways about this: dosti nibhana hai to dosti nibhao; dushmani nibhana hai, to dushmani nibhao (if you want friendship, then let's be friends; if you want enmity, then be just enemies).

Dilip Kumar was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz and artistes like Pandit Jasraj and Daler Mehndi have been treated with respect in Pakistan. Why can't we do the same?

Dilip Kumar ko Nishan-e-Imtiaz de diya aur Kashmir mein hamare logon ko nishana bana diya (they gave Dilip Kumar the Nishan-e-Imtiaz and made people in Kashmir a target). As far as other artistes are concerned, before embarking on such trips, they should remember that it's India that's given them fame.

But Pakistan has been making an effort to build bridges?

I remember an item that appeared some years ago. When Hum Aapke Hain Koun was released in Pakistan, the words 'hai ram' were deleted from the song Didi tera devar deewana.

Even Jansher Khan almost backed out of his visit to the city.

Jansher Khan's coming or not coming does not make a difference to our people. What makes a difference is the terrorism that Pakistan fosters in Kashmir. Somebody like Anupam Kher understands the pain because he has experienced it.

Michael Jackson is allowed, Ghulam Ali is not. What kind of a culture freeze is this?

Ghulam Ali is undoubtedly a great artiste—the only regret is he is from Pakistan. Our stopping the concert had nothing to do with the artiste but was a sign of protest against Pakistan. Besides, we have enough culture of our own—so where is the question of a culture freeze?

What are your personal feelings about this?

Personally, I feel pained about what happened. I respect Ghulam Ali and I have his cassettes and CDs at home. The point we were making was beyond one's personal feelings or political insecurity. And now that we have the BJP government in power, hopefully the Pakistan issue will be tackled the right way.

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