While Hindu extremist party Shiv Sena's recent clampdown on Pakistani artistes in India gives the impression that all of our stars must have gone into hiding, singer Javed Bashir's concert in New Delhi last weekend went off without a hitch.
Indian NGO Routes2Roots invited Javed to perform last weekend as part of their continual series of musical events that aims to bridge the gap between India and the rest of the world.
Javed echoed the same idea in his later interview with The Hindu:
"We as singers can bridge the gap between the two countries by producing music which crosses boundaries and creates love between the people from both sides. If musicians from both sides collaborate, then they can make music which can be presented to the world as a masterpiece. The need is to understand the fact that music creates bond not hatred."
While Javed Bashir's performance was uninterrupted, other Pakistani musicians like Ghulam Ali, Mekaal Hasan Band or Atif Aslam have not been as fortunate in the recent past.
But Bashir is adamant that "music travels without a visa":
"I think music has no religion and boundaries. Music cannot be stopped by cancelling the shows as it travels without visa. Wherever I have performed most of my audience come from India and even in [my concert in Delhi] all the accompanists are from India which clearly shows that citizens want to enjoy music and music is a synonym of peace."
Javed has contributed to Bollywood several times in films such as Kahaani, Cocktail and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and will soon be heard again on the soundtracks of Rajeev Kumar's Saavi and Sudhir Mishra’s upcoming project.
Mahesh Bhatt responds to Shiv Sena threats to Mahira and Fawad
Shiv Sena most recently issued threats to popular Pakistani film stars, Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan.
Mahira is playing Shah Rukh Khan's love interest in the upcoming film Raees, while Fawad has been roped in two films Kapoor & Sons and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Shiv Sena says that they will not allow the actors to promote their films on Maharashtra soil.
While Mahira and Fawad's producers have not openly commented on Shiv Sena's threats, Mahesh Bhatt, who is a vocal supporter of using cultural means to promote Pak-India peace, called on the government to act:
"When I made a film called Saathi with Pakistani cricketer turned actor Mohsin Khan, he was asked to go away. The government should act now and not allow people [to instill] fear in the minds of cultural ambassadors," he said to Emirates 24/7.