Of Aman ki Asha

The new year began with a new initiative from the Times of India Group in collaboration with the Jang Group in Pakistan. Called Aman Ki Asha, this initiative seeks to strengthen people to people goodwill between the aam junta of India and Pakistan, and thereby do away with hostility and negativity that perveades the relationship between the two countries. As far as an initiative goes, it is an honest to goodness effort at building goodwill. As someone who has been working with 26/11 victims for the past year, I agree that any effort to promote goodwill between the populations of these two countries is welcome. Will it work? Not immediately. But as a start.  As drops make up an ocean, any step towards peace and goodwill will ultimately add up. It is a start, and a brave one at that, and that by itself needs to be admired. If this is a marketing gimmick as most Cassandras have been decrying, I’m all for it. Gimmick or not, it is a welcome relief from the baying for their blood stridency which had taken over most reporting on Pakistan post 26/11.
I’m not going to delve into the history of the conflicts between the two nations, the festering anger, the two wars we have fought, the countless incidents of terrorism and infiltration and the proxy wars. That is something political commentators would do better commenting on.
What I find interesting, and very commendable, is the television commercial to promote this new endevour has as its unifying factor, Bollywood. In a gist, the TVC shows a desert terrain, with people of both countries across the barbed wire, playing a kind of dumb charade wherein, the people from Pakistan finally manage to communicate the name of an Indian feature film, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The people on the Indian side of the wire rush to dial a request for a song from the film to All India Radio, and both songs enjoy the song when it is aired. Simplistic? Perhaps. But an indicator of how much Indian movies are enjoyed in Pakistan.
Pakistan banned Bollywood movies in 1965 after the Indo Pak war. But cable networks, pirated DVDs and a thriving underground market for Bollywood ensured that Bollywood movies were available to the Pakistan audience the very day of a movie’s release in India. Indian movie stars are as revered across the border as they are here in India. This ban was lifted recently, by the Pakistan government, and subsequent to this cinema halls in Pakistan screened “Taare Zameen Par” which was the first release after the ban was lifted. This was followed by “Singh is Kinng”, “Kismat Konnection”, “Welcome”, “The Killer”, “Bhagam Bhag”, “Race”, “Golmaal Returns”, “Jannat”, “Bhootnath”, “Karzzz”, “Hello”, “Love Story 2050”, “Dostana”, “Yuvvraaj” and “Kidnap”. In fact, Mahesh Bhatt had announced a romance from his banner Vishesh Films, to be shot completely in Pakistan last year. Maybe he had something right, when he conceived of an Indo Pak collaboration to alleviate mistrust and hostilities between the two regions. In fact Raj Kapoor could be the pioneer in this, with his film Henna (which was subsequently directed by his son Randhir Kapoor upon his demise) which featured Zeba Bakhtiar, a leading Pakistani actress. Ironically, her ex-husband, Adnan Sami is currently working in Mumbai, creating music for a number of Bollywood movies. Salma Agha made a hit film Nikaah, Reena Roy married (and subsequently divorced Pakistani cricketer Mohsin Khan, which is also another great binder between the two nations, our common passion for cricket), Akbar Khan attempted to take forward the film-friendship exchange with the showing of his magnum Opus Taj Mahal in Pakistan. Interestingly, the film starred Sonya Jehan, the granddaughter of the famous singing legend from Pakistan, Noor Jehan. Pakistani comedians and comedy shows have been popular in India for decades, and Pakistani sit-coms like Dhoop Kinare and Tanhaiyian reached cult status in the bootlegged video cassette market in the 1980s. Indian films have gone the whole hog in depicting Pakistan as the enemy too. The spate of these came post Kargil.
But culture cannot draw sustenance from political enemity. The politics of distrust and hatred can only be eliminated not through further strife and war, but through concerted efforts to find a middle ground of connection and bonding.
We share a common culture, we have common references, we have the same over the top penchant for living life large through our films and entertainment. We love our musicals, we are two countries carved from one. While the politics of terror and hatred can play itself on a platform sponsored by forces beyond the control of the aam junta, the people of the two countries can leverage the powerful binding influences of entertainment and culture, movies, music and literature to create a shared heritage that goes beyond the politics of hate. Aman Ki Asha? One can always hope for peace. And commend the attempt.
 
Links: http://www.pakool.com/featured/aman-ki-asha-a-shot-in-the-dark-bound-to-fail/
http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/separated-at-birth/2010/01/04/aman-ki-asha-marketing-peace-with-pakistan/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4617447.stm

Link: http://www.afaqs.com/perl/advertising/storyboard/index.html?id=3158

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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8 Responses to Of Aman ki Asha

  1. Rehan says:

    Nice insight! I didnt know Pakistani dramas were so popular in India. One thing i would want to say is that the media has done deeds to widen the gap as well. Many new channels on both sides depict a very evil and somewhat untrue picture on the other country. Many bollywood movies show Pakistanis as terrorists. Its certainly a slow process and needs serious attention from the governments.

    Absolutely. Too much history. Too much hate. Too much negativity. On both sides. An attempt from anyone to build bridges should be welcomed.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Of Aman ki Asha « Thirtysix and counting | Drakz bollywood Online Service

  3. Ash says:

    Thanks for this post, Kiran.

    – Your fan from across the border 🙂

    Honoured….

    Like

  4. V says:

    I dont know if its just me, but I always problems accepting any “initiative” taken by the media without wondering what the hidden agenda is…

    I dont want to think of hidden agendas. Everything will have a hidden agenda if you think hard enough. I’d rather accept things at face value and get on with life…

    Like

  5. Sumit says:

    I hav always been in favour of gud relation wid pak. Why can’t v both come together if v can liv wid others.

    Like

  6. Sumit says:

    Both countries has seen their bad time been apart, lets erase these boundries afterall v all r brother n sisters. I hope my brothers on dat side of border too think d same. Lets unite n give dis world a superpower. Imagine d day when sachin, sehwag, afridi, akmal n dhoni will ratel dis world. Dis all can come true if v all try our best to bring peace n avoid all ipl like issues to bring to nation close.

    Like

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