MUMBAI -- Slamming Shiv Sena's resolve to halt Pakistani artists from performing in Maharashtra, several Bollywood celebrities have come out in support of actors and performers from across the border, saying art and culture should be kept separate from politics.
Sena, which shares power with the BJP in the state and at the Centre, had said that it will not allow any Pakistani actor, cricketer or performer to step on Maharashtra's soil.
Seeking a ban, they also targeted Pakistani actors like Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, who are trying to gain foothold in the Hindi film industry and are busy with the promotions of their upcoming films here.
Filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt, who is also the President of Film & Television Producers Guild of India, said that art should be kept away from politics.
"I feel art and culture should be kept separate from politics. All over the world, it is art and culture which bridges the gap... It is a strong force to create peace and harmony and it benefits the society irrespective of the boundaries."
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Fawad Khan, who made his Bollywood debut with "Khoobsurat", will be next seen in "Kapoor & Sons" and "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil", both of which are produced by Karan Johar.
Meanwhile Pakistani actress Mahira Khan is all set to make her debut opposite superstar Shah Rukh Khan in Rahul Dholakia's "Raees".
Bhatt said the actress was cast in the film based on her talent and not nationality.
"This cannot happen every time. You cannot make filmmakers vulnerable. Now Shah Rukh has almost completed his film with Mahira. He chose her because she is talented, not because she is from Pakistan or any other country."
The filmmaker also appealed to the government to pass an order in advance if Shiv Sena wants a ban on Pakistani artist.
"It is my appeal to the government, to come up with a diktat. If at all they (Shiv Sena) want a ban for artists from Pakistan, send an official letter from the I&B Ministry that from so and so date in the future, you are not authorised to work with artits from other countries in any film," he said.
"Let it come from the Centre in advance then at least we will be prepared. But nothing should be overnight. Filmmakers should not fall victim. I would request Uddhav Thackeray, who is a very rational and balanced person, to keep art and culture away from politics. It is unfair and unjust."
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Noted lyricist Swanand Kirkire said that resorting to a ban is in itself fundamentally not right.
"I don't agree with them. Fundamentally, banning anything is wrong. Politics and art should not be mixed."
"Phantom" actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, who will be next seen in "Raees", said, "Putting a ban or avoiding something only shows weakness. If you are restricting an artist to come here, it shows animosity and intolerance. It is extremely sad that this is happening."
Earlier, Shiv Sena had forced cancellation of leading Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali's concert in Mumbai sparking a lot of controversy.
Then on Monday, dozens of Shiv Sainiks had attacked BCCI's head office in the city when PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan was to meet Cricket Board President Shashank Manohar.
Noted actor Adil Hussain said that this "attitude" will make the country only regressive.
"I feel this attitude is never going to help us become a developed nation. It is going to take India backward towards a regressive time which nobody wants.
"Absolute freedom of artistic activity is one of the most important signs of a developed nation. We should not encourage divisive comments and politics."