Who is the fairest nation of them all?
And now, less than ten days after reports emerged of her intention to migrate to a more liberal Bombay, Meera of Lollywood has executed a u-turn. And how.
Vehemently opposing bringing Indian films to Pakistani cinemas, she said it should “never” happen.
“India has a different culture, Indians have a different mind-set and Indian movies should not be screened in Pakistan. We should produce our own movies. We are Muslims and we have to make films that depict our own culture,” the Daily Times quoted the film actress as saying.
The film actress added: “Yes, I used to say that I am an ambassador of peace between India and Pakistan. But I won’t say that now.”
Asked why she had suddenly turned against screening of Indian films in Pakistan after having herself acted in Bollywood films, Meera said that she couldn’t articulate her viewpoint, “but what she had observed while working in India was that the Indian films should not be screened in Pakistan.” [WebIndia via Varnam]
That Meera has connected her observations while working in India to a rather unrelated issue of allowing the screening of Indian films in Pakistan suggests that the Musharraf regime has been at work on her. The ban on the screening of Indian films in cinemas is part of the establishment dogma in Pakistan. Clearly, Meera’s decision to ditch Lahore for Bombay would hardly have been a ringing endorsement of their desired image of Pakistan at home and abroad. The establishment could simply not allow this to come to pass. Hence Meera’s latest act, a celebrity endorsement of the establishment’s version of what Pakistan is, and what India is not, which are two ways of saying the same thing. (The chance that Meera’s change of heart was brought about by Gen Musharraf’s recent statements of his deep commitment to the emancipation of women can easily be dismissed.)
It was the lofty-softy crowd that held up Meera as an example of how people-to-people contacts could help people in the two countries to understand each other better. They are not wrong. But it is wholly wrong to believe that this will somehow translate into the Pakistani government stopping its support for terrorism or even mildly changing its anti-India mindset for that matter. As long as Pakistan remains under the influence of the military establishment — which remains the guardian of Pakistan’s ideological frontiers — there is little hope that the Pakistani people can influence their rulers to go it easy on India.
If Meera is speaking freely, however unlikely that may be, then she is negating the Pakistanis are ‘people like us’ theory. And if she is speaking under coercion, then it only proves until Pakistan becomes a ‘normal’ democracy, there is very little by way of concrete benefits that people-to-people contacts can achieve for India.
From the archive: The problem with people-to-people contacts; Sorry Miss – No Tanha Tanha allowed across the border; Wrong Message, Wrong Audience; Bollywood’s apologists must go the whole nine yards.