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Mahesh Bhatt invites Pakistani singers Ali Zafar, Shafqat Amanat Ali to India for a play


The veteran filmmaker has planned a peace initiative play Milne Do, which will take place in New Delhi and Mumbai. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

Filmmaker Mahesh  Bhatt, who has always batted for India-Pakistan cultural ties, could find himself in trouble after he reportedly invited some Pakistani artistes to use their voice for a play Milne Do that will take place in Delhi on 8 June and in Mumbai on 23 June. The filmmaker is said to have sent an invite to the likes of Ali Zafar and Shafqat Amanat Ali.

Delhi-based actor Imran Zahid, who is part of the play told Daily News & Analysis (DNA) newspaper, “Every Pakistani artiste Bhatt saab has approached has responded enthusiastically. Shafqat Amanat Ali’s manager said he doesn’t want any money for this song. We are also working on getting Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam on board."

Though the Indian government never banned the entry of Pakistani artistes in India, the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) had resolved to ban Pakistani artistes/technicians from Indian cinema.  Besides, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had threatened to disrupt the release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) which had Pakistani artist Fawad Khan in it. The film was only allowed to be released after Johar, IMPPA assured the MNS that henceforth they will not hire any Pakistani artiste.  

Zahid is aware of the reservations by a few political parties, but he’s confident that the play will be staged smoothly. "Bhatt saab is not new to protests. Dialogue with Pakistan must re-start on a cultural level. The Delhi government is supporting our endeavour here in Delhi and in West Bengal Mamata Banerjee has extended support to our mission."

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Shaina NC was not in favour of this peace initiative by Bhatt. 

"Relations with Pakistan have deteriorated to such an extent that there is a move now to declare Pakistan a terror state on an international level. Given the current crisis I don’t think we can have Pakistani artistes coming here," Shaina told DNA.

We spoke to an MNS member and Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena president Ameya Khopkar, who, too, was not in favour of this move. 

"I need to check this news first. I can’t comment about Delhi, but if they plan to stage the play in Mumbai, there is no way that we will allow it happen,” Khopkar told Cinestaan.com

India and Pakistan relations have taken a taken a hit since the terror attack in Uri, in which 19 Indian soldiers were martyred.