Pakistan holds a massive audience for Bollywood movies, as we’re all very well aware of. An average Pakistani enjoys watching Indian movies, just as most Indian people do. However, if a movie holds strong potential of creating controversy and offending Pakistan, will an average Pakistani still go watch it with the same level of enthusiasm and excitement? I doubt it. Mr Saif Ali khan, the leading actor of his upcoming film, Phantom, which is based on the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has given out very strong statements against Pakistan, and clearly stated that, he doesn’t have “faith in Pakistan” for banning his previous films and now, Phantom. Mr Khan’s statements have gone viral and greatly angered his Pakistani fans, especially across social media like Facebook and Twitter, where Pakistanis have responded in great resentment.
Is it publicity stunt for his upcoming film, or is Mr Khan just upset about the ban on his film? We asked one of Pakistan’s most talented actors and our very own, Azfar Rehman for his insight on this controversial issue: “This is a huge statement. Why has Saif Ali khan used Pakistan’s name as a whole? I’d like to question him on this, and ask him to elaborate on his statement. He could’ve mentioned the authorities who banned it, why Pakistan? Pakistan includes everyone. That’s why more anger is being generated. He has hurt the sentiments of the Pakistani audience, including mine. He may lose millions of Pakistani fans now because of this.”
Azfar Rehman has strongly condemned the actor’s statements. Unfortunately, the once cherished actor is now a source of resentment among the Pakistani public. Some feel it’s a publicity stunt to create more hype and generate more publicity for his upcoming film, while others feel he’s trying to get his political views across. However, whatever may be the case, because of the actor’s statements, a lot of negativity has been added to the already complicated Pak-Indo relationship; where peace has always been an issue and hatred has always been an option. Indians and Pakistanis are engaging in written wars all over social media, using all sorts of foul language and blaming each other. Also, the actor’s official pages on social media are being bombarded with anger-filled comments by Pakistanis worldwide. It’s definitely an unfortunate scenario, but consequences of such a controversy are bound to occur, especially when it’s about such sensitive topics.
Also, very recently a 12 minute video by a Pakistani journalist, Faisal Qureshi has been launched online and it has gone viral on social media, with a total number of 44,607 likes, 73,232 shares and over one million views on Facebook currently. Qureshi has greatly condemned Saif’s statements and is furious about the fact that Saif has spoken against Pakistan. He has expressed his anger with a sense of sarcasm and humor. He has also included a previous interview of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. May it be videos like these, hateful comments or social media wars, why initiate such a controversy? Why pass such statements that would provoke the public to fight? All the chaos going on right now about Saif Ali Khan’s statements was bound to happen, because as I mentioned earlier, the Pak-Indo relationship is already a sensitive one, hence passing statements like these are the root cause of the current chaos.