February 22, 2020
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'It Does Not Speak Well For Any Party'

Shatrughan Sinha Shatrughan Sinha, the filmstar who's also the BJP's star attraction, prides himself on "calling a spade a spade". This time it's the controversial Ghulam Ali issue and the defence of artistic freedom. He's seen the Amitabh Bachchan

'It Does Not Speak Well For Any Party'

What are the ramifications for music companies trying to promote Pak talent like Junoon in India?

I've seen Junoon and think they've brought novelty to the stale music bazaar. Yes, an incident like this might make things difficult but I sincerely hope it's not repeated. Pakistani artistes come here with the consent of the government of India. They should not only be allowed to perform, but also to promote themselves because art has no boundaries. If Michael Jackson is loved abroad, he's loved here too. Incidents like these not only harm the image of the country, they also hamper peace.

Does this mean that Mumbai exit and entry rules are different from the rest of India?

I don't appreciate acts of this kind and certainly don't approve of the methods used. The issues that formed the basis of the protest should be dealt on a government to government basis. I am glad that Jan-sher Khan has decided to come to India. Finally, one must remember Mumbai is a part of India just as India is a part of Mum-bai. There can't be two sets of rules.

Will Sena troopers repeat this performance elsewhere in the country?

I sincerely hope not. Such incidents do not speak well for any political party. You can condemn the Pakistan policy of not allowing performances of Indian artistes but you can't condemn their art or their artistes. Even when you condemn, there are proper platforms and channels to do so.

Does this reek of rampant fascism?

This is just a reaction by the over-enthusiastic youth of a political party. It's an act of josh (enthusiasm), not hosh (in full senses). Fascism, like communalism and secularism, is a conveniently used word.

Uddhav Thackeray knew of the protest; how can it be over-enthusiasm?

If that's so, then it's not right.

Do culture and politics mix?


Then do religion and politics mix? And isn't the BJP doing the same with just a variation in the theme ?

I am categorically saying that religion and politics don't mix but for now, it is a matter unrelated to the Ghulam Ali issue.

So how do you justify support to a party that allies with such people? Is it political expediency at work ?

The incident is not part of a policy decision. If it was, things would've been different. Culture and politics don't mix, but culture and policy do. If people feel so strongly about this, let a policy be formulated—then nobody would question why these artistes are not being allowed here.

How do you justify your support to Ghulam Ali in view of the official Pakistani ban on Indians performing across the border?

I have been the state guest of Pakistan several times on the invitations of Zia-ul-Haq and even Nawaz Sharif. The respect and love showered by the Pakistani people and their media was overwhelming. At Zia-ul-Haq's daughter's wedding, 99 per cent of the songs at the sangeet mehfil were Lata Mangeshkar's and Asha Bhonsle's. I discovered there was more demand for Jagjit Singh's ghazals than Ghulam Ali's or Mehdi Hasan's. It shows that internationally recognised artistes like Ghulam Ali have no caste, creed or boundaries. Now Pt Jasraj and Daler Mehndi have been allowed to perform there. After Morarjee Desai, Dilip Kumar has been the second person to receive the Nishan-e-Imtiaz award. The ice is being broken gradually.

Will Mumbai fans be deprived of the excitement of Indo-Pak cricket?

I hope not and I hope the government takes notice of this thing.

Do these token protests help resolve anything?

Individual protests complicate things.

Is it part of a larger threat to freedom of press/speech/expression?

This is an isolated incident and the whole country should not be judged on this basis. I think they wanted to convey a message and though the method was not agreeable, the message has gone down.

Do you believe any Sainik will be prosecuted for this rowdiness?

This is something that the so-called 'principal' Manohar Joshi should answer.

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