Aishwariya Subramanian writes about why she thinks the cultural exchange between India and Pakistan shouldn’t come to an end and why Fawad Khan should not be sent packing.
I don’t want Fawad Khan to leave India. No, it’s not because I am a fangirl who is deeply in love with him (full disclosure: I am a fangirl who is deeply in love with him).
I don’t want him to leave because at the end of the day, I am in my own way deeply patriotic about India, the nation I call home.
India was built on this outlandish idea that different cultures could not only co-exist peacefully alongside one another but also prosper. Each state boasts its own set of mores, languages, traditional costumes, dances and even come with their own unique rules that have to be followed when it comes to bargaining with auto uncles. For the most part, the reason we have not yet crumbled is because we have learned to thrive off our differences. We have embraced them. We have imbibed them. We have been enriched by them. That’s why you will find an Udipi restaurant in the middle of rural Punjab and you will attend a Bharatnatyam concert in Kolkata. We are different yet similar and our acceptance of our differences makes us stronger, diverse and colourful. India was designed to be a nation defined by its freedom and democracy that afforded everyone equal opportunities and dignity in existence.
And that’s why Fawad Khan should not be sent packing.
I became aware of Fawad Khan when a friend recommended some Pakistani television series to me. I remember being impressed with the poise and grace he brought to the screen. He looked like he had walked out of a Raymond commercial (“The complete man”), and I thought that if he lived in India, he would become a Bollywood sensation. As fate would have it, Fawad Khan did come to India and quickly became a star to be reckoned with due to his undeniable screen presence. And now the very people who celebrated him (especially those very brave souls who exist on Twitter) want him and other Pakistani actors and actresses to leave.
And that’s heartbreaking for India.
For centuries, nations across the world have forged bonds with one another through music and the arts. And this is especially important for those living in India and Pakistan. When Pakistanis watch our movies, they are for the most part introduced to incredibly entertaining stories (not to mention Katrina Kaif’s abs) that seem different yet familiar. When we download their Coke Studio sessions, we are for the most part introduced to incredible music (not to mention a surprisingly sonorous Ali Zafar) that feels different yet familiar. We find a common ground to understand one another not through battlefields but as normal human beings whose lives revolve around our loved ones, our jobs and our passions.
We see each other as people and not as faceless enemies who want the other dead.
And when we cut off an important platform for cultural exchange, we end up setting a dangerous precedent. We show those in Pakistan that we Indians are really are not as tolerant as we constantly claim to be. And show the world that we are ready to push away the very people who come to us to hoping to chase their dreams. And we create more bad blood between two nations that simply cannot afford to go to war.
I want Fawad Khan to stay not because I think he is handsome (in Bollywood, “handsome” is a dime a dozen). I want him and others like him to stay because as an Indian I want to show the world that we are welcoming of talent from across the globe. I want to show the world that we are always looking to establish peace and not escalate to war. I want to show the world that we are compassionate and do not discriminate.
I want to show the world just how incredible India and Indians can really be.
So, now you tell me, why wouldn’t I want Fawad Khan to stay?
– Aishwariya Subramanian