A lot has been said about the ban placed on Pakistani artists from taking up new projects in India by the Indian Motion Picture Producer’s Association (IMPPA), due to increasing political turmoil between the two countries.
The latest so-called casualty is, of course, the hugely-awaited Karan Johar movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, whose release on October 28 seems to be shrouded in far more drama than possibly the film itself. While Johar himself released an impassioned video statement that pretty much grovels for a positive reception to his film, social media is pretty staunchly divided over the concept of the ban in general.
It wasn’t always like this, though.
Indian art and entertainment, over the past 70 years, has owed a fair share of debt to artistes and technicians from the neighbouring country, who have consistently contributed their creative talent into works produced here. Even as now-familiar personalities like Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, and Ali Zafar head back home, here’s a glimpse of just how much we’ve ‘borrowed’ from our not-so-friendly neighbours over the decades.
Partition Literature is the first thing that comes to mind, when we talk about shared experiences between India and Pakistan. In more contemporary times, however, writers from both countries have easily crossed the border through their writings, in their attempts to recreate the complete picture of a divided empire.
Indian publishers like Pan Macmillan India, Juggernaut, Penguin India, HarperCollins India, and Speaking Tiger have all published works by upcoming (resident or non-resident) Pakistani writers. Haroon Khalid, Mohammed Hanif, Bilal Tanweer, Shazaf Fatima Haider, among others have had their books published in India. A lot of this is largely because the Pakistani publishing industry still caters to a small market and is often reluctant to publish works in English.
Indian readers, however, seem to lap up the chance to gain some perspective on the country through its literature. Books such as A White Trail, The Scatter Here Is Too Great, Karachi, You’re Killing Me, and The Prisoner and Slum Child, offer fresh insights into terrorism, politics and cultural and social movements of Pakistan.
The filmi exchange between India and Pakistan is as old as the two nations themselves. ‘Malika-e-Tarannum’ Noor Jehan was the first actress/singer who moved to Pakistan from British India and is famously remembered for the film Khandaan.
Since then, many Pakistani actors, such as Salma Agha (Nikaah), Somi Ali, Salman Shahid (Kabul Express), Javed Shiekh (Jannat, Om Shanti Om) and Ali Zafar (Tere Bin Laden) have welcomed the idea of working in Bollywood.
Though the Pakistan film industry is not as active as Bollywood, their offbeat cinema has remained popular among Indian audiences. Some of their most critically acclaimed films include Waar (2013), Bol (2011), Khuda ke Liye (2007, featuring Naseeruddin Shah) and Ramchand Pakistani (2008, featuring Nandita Das).
Pakistani singers have always struck a special chord with the Indian audience. Lovers of classical music will always be grateful to artistes like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali and Abida Parveen for treating them to their unforgettable ghazals, qawwalis, kafis, and sufi songs.
Singers like Adnan Sami, Atif Aslam, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Rahet Fateh Ali Khan have been ruling the box office charts for over a decade now, delivering songs like Kabhi Toh Nazar Milao, Pehli Nazar (Race), Mitwa (Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna), Lagi Tumse Mann Ki Lagan (Paap), and more.
With the launch of Zee Zindagi in May 2015, television dramas from across the border were telecast for the first time in India. It pretty much changed the Indian television scene forever, with the shows providing a much-needed, refreshing break from all the heavy duty illogical drama that the Indian audience has been fed since the past two decades.
The serene yet sophisticated sets, the realistic and subtle characters, the mesmerizing language and music, as well as the much desired definite (and concise) ends . . . everything about these shows had Indian viewers hooked.
Not only were these shows re-telecast on popular demand but the transition from television to Bollywood became a cakewalk for actors like Fawad kham, Mahira Khan, Imran Abbas, and Mawra Hocane.
Last, but not the least, let’s not forget the wave of Pakistani fashion that has swept over our runways, shopping malls, and weddings. Be it heavily-embroidered kurtas and sherwanis, block prints, Anarkalis, or the crazily-in-demand palazzos with their attractive silhouettes, Pakistani fashion has successfully wooed over the Indian retail and fashion scene. It also led to many specialty Pakistani boutiques in Delhi and Mumbai, such as those by the Pakistani Fashion Design Council (PFDC) and designers like Huma Naseer and Riyaz Gangji.