National award-winning filmmaker Shonali Bose says though she wishes to cast Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, she couldn't do it -- in the face of calls for a "ban on Pakistani actors". According to her, such things should be stopped.
She last directed 2014 Margarita, With A Straw
Shonali was recently part of a panel discussion in Mumbai. Controlling creativity: Is censorship relevant? --alongside veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal at the Ficci Frames 2018.
Asked how the constant restrictions from the Central Board of Film Certification is affecting the creativity and freedom of expression, Shonali said: "Instead of taking action to protect the rights of women and project their image under the right light, they are restricting filmmakers from doing their work freely."
"Cinema should be free... For instance, Pakistani actors are not allowed to work in Indian films, and this decision is supported by Indian Motion Pictures Producers' Association. What if I want to make a film with Fawad Khan?"
While the moderator of the panel mentioned that her comment might earn her the title of an "anti-national", she replied: "That is the problem with our country nowadays.
"I speak of friendship between two countries. I want to make a film with Fawad Khan and nobody will allow me to make the film; producer will not back the film because of the risk and fear that has been created around it."
The calls for banning Pakistani talent from working in the Hindi film industry first surfaced in 2016 when cross-border India-Pakistan tension spilled over into the entertainment world, with some Indian political outfits imposing a ban on Pakistanis and a few Pakistani theatres pulling down Indian movies from their big screens.
The ban came after the September 18 terror attack that killed 19 Indian soldiers in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.
The issue resurfaced last month when Union Minister Babul Supriyo said that Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's voice in the song "Ishtehaar" in the Bollywood film "Welcome to New York" must be dubbed by someone else. Supriyo also demanded a ban on Pakistani artistes in Bollywood.