The MNS’s film wing, the Chitrapat Karmachari Sena, on Thursday wrote to the channel on which Sur-Kshetra will be aired from September 8, and to noted playback singer Asha Bhosale, who is on the show’s grand jury, spelling out its views. “We respect art. But Pakistan did not reciprocate this sentiment when it summarily banned Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger recently. We will not allow any shoot of the channel if it goes ahead with the show involving Pakistani artistes,” said the letter.
Buoyed by Raj Thackeray’s recent morcha condemning the mob rampage at Azad Maidan on August 11 and the Supreme Court’s latest verdict confirming Ajmal Kasab’s death penalty, the MNS has begun to flex its muscles to earn a niche in Mumbai politics, say party watchers. “Pakistan has been inflicting injuries on India by plotting terrorist attacks. There is no need to undertake such a show on TV,” said Ameya Khopkar, chief of the Chitrapat Karmachari Sena. “If the show goes on air, we will deal with the situation in a manner befitting the MNS,” he warned.
Tight security was arranged at the suburban hotel where the channel held a press conference on Thursday in the run-up to the show. Bhosale held hectic consultations with the MNS functionaries as well as senior MNS functionary Shalini Thackeray, urging them to call off the stir. “The show aims to promote peace and harmony between two neighbouring countries,” she stated. The press conference was held nearly three hours behind schedule, following high tension at the hotel.
Later, addressing mediapersons, the veteran singer tried to defuse the crisis by declaring her “love and affection” for MNS chief Raj Thackeray. “I will always love Raj even if he abuses me…I know he loves my songs,” she said, adding that she also loved Maharashtra. However, despite these statements, Bhosale refused to be cowed down and confirmed her participation in Sur-Kshetra. “I am a simple woman who believes in humanity and in spreading love and understanding through music,” she said. “I am a singer and not a politician. I know I am working with good people.”
After the 26/11 terror attack, many Pakistani actors disappeared from the Indian scene. Comedians like Kashif and Shakeel Siddiqui and a TV show participant Zaheer Abbas had to leave India immediately after the attack. However, despite the Shiv Sena’s and MNS’s constant protests against Pakistani actors in TV shows and films, producers continue to work with them. Nearly half a dozen Pakistani actors like Meera, Veena Malik, Ali Zafar, Imran Abbas and Humiama Malik are acting in Hindi films. Some music directors fly to Dubai and record songs with singers Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam.