Pakistani actor Jamal Shah
The past month has been a turbulent one. After the Pulwama attack on February 14 by Pakistani terrorist group Jaish-E-Mohammad, India retaliated with air strikes in Balakot on February 26. Things reached a breaking point when on February 27, the Indian government confirmed that an Indian Air Force MiG-21 was shot down by Pakistan, and the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, had been taken into Pakistan custody. Much to India’s relief, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan today declared that he would be sent back home tomorrow safely as a goodwill and peace gesture.
IndiaToday.In spoke to Pakistani actor and filmmaker Jamal Shah who agreed heartily with the gesture and said that he would’ve done the same. “I would have done the same. A majority in Pakistan wanted to do that [send him home]. Imran just responded to popular sentiment.”
The tension between the two countries infiltrated the cinematic realm, as a ban was declared on Pakistani artistes working in the Indian film industry. Actors like Ajay Devgn declared that they would not release their films in Pakistan. And after the Balakot air strikes, the release of Indian films was banned in Pakistan.
Speaking about this, Shah said that art and culture is a strong form of communication that can bring people closer to each other and help establish dialogue that can bridge all kinds of distances and divides. “We [India and Pakistan] share music, art, folklore and all other forms of tangible and intangible forms of association. We can be the most prosperous neighbours if we give peace a chance,” he said.
Like many from both sides of the border, he abhors the idea of war. “The recent skirmishes are a logical outcome of the flawed policies and it is scary because we are two nuclear nations. War can only bring miseries, distraction and poverty to this region where over 70% of our population have already lived below poverty line.” On a hopeful note he said, Let’s hope sense will prevail current attacks and counterattacks.”‘
In future, if the situation between the two countries is better, would he want to work in the Indian film industry? I am an artist and a filmmaker which does not make me any special because I believe that every normal human being strives for peaceful coexistence. But yes, why not if there is a meaningful film offered to me. I most certainly will do it. Likewise, I would like to cast a few Indian actors to be in my future films.”
He added, “Indian film Industry still has the pre-partition nostalgic memories of great minds working together as writers, composers, lyricists, composers and actors. I would like to help create conditions where our best talent can complement each other.”