Musical Snares: Sur-Kshetra

Himesh-Atif: No war this?

May I ask Asha Bhosle ji why are only some Pakistanis allowed to be our guests and others are not? While Raj Thackeray is busy acting out his job profile of politics, I do wonder about the politics of commerce.

The promos of the music reality show Sur-Kshetra have been on air for weeks. Raj chose the press conference to hit out. That too with this statement:

“Would Veer Savarkar have endorsed Bhosale’s decision to collaborate with Pakistani singers?” alluding to the family’s “loyalty to the freedom fighter”.

Veer Savarkar is of little relevance here. It is Ms. Bhosle’s comment that is:

“Maharashtrians believe in the mantra of Atithi Devo Bhava (the guest is god)…Nationality is of no importance, we are here to praise talent. As a human being, I believe in being nice to everyone.”

I have been watching Ashatai judging the just-concluded Indian Idol and loved her beyond her singing. There were contestants from several parts of India. She never felt the need to dispute Raj Thackeray’s barbs about Biharis, UPites and others. And why is she asserting her Maharashtrian identity?

So, when Raj rebuffs her with, “Is this ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ or ‘Paisa Devo Bhava’?” there is some truth in it.

Let us call this Indo-Pak trade instead of soft-focusing it as music has no boundaries. And, yes, there is hierarchy where even some Pakistanis are allowed. I have mentioned this earlier that while Sheema Kermani, actor-dancer-activist (and she says so without obfuscation) invited an Indian dancer to Pakistan, she was not granted visa. A fairly well-known Pakistani in the entertainment industry surprised me by saying, “Some are favoured.” He gave up on a co-project with some Indians because of the problems. All is not as good as the marketing fellas will have us believe to raise their TRPs.

Abida & Asha; Mota maal/baal. Pic TOI

And Asha Bhosle is now a big part of it:

“I don't like politics...I don't understand it. I love Maharashtra and I am a Maharashtrian. I am a singer....I understand the language of music.”

Music, and sports, have entered the political space. I just saw a promo of the same show where one contestant was praised for her singing and keeping the Indian laaj. Sur-kshetra is promoted as a battle between two clearly demarcated sides – contestants and judges. Why is Asha tai playing na├»ve not to understand that this is Indo-Pak politics? Has she been invited to perform there? Should it not be mutual for a level-playing field? 

Do we not have singers and actors of the 'calibre' of Veena Malik? Or that expressionless wonder Ali Zafar? Our music directors meet their singers in Dubai. How many of them have reciprocated? For those in denial or with poor memories, read Jagjit Singh and Abhijeet's views on this

I love Iranian cinema, Japanese poetry, Spanish dance, and literature, music, art from several places. These are personal choices. So, if I love Pakistani musicians, it is again in my individual capacity. It is intriguing, though, that we want to highlight differences in an area where they ought to be solved – diplomacy – but come together where we do not need to. Pakistani music has not reinvented sur and taal. It follows the Hindustani gharanas, the raagas. Even Sufi music goes back to Amir Khusrau, and was he Pakistani? He wrote in Farsi and Hindvi.

If music is beyond politics, then why do artistes project themselves as ambassadors of their countries and act like activists? Talking of peace on a public platform is also activism.

This televised musical peaceful co-existence is just banking on emotional love-hate that Indo-Pak ties thrive on.

So, it is true. Money has no language, no country. And no culture.

PS: The battle on the show pits Indian Himesh Reshammiya against Pakistan's Atif Aslam. The super jury is Asha Bhosle, Abida Parveen and Runa Laila, the 'illegal immigrant' Bangladeshi or a buffer?

(c) Farzana Versey


  1. FV,

    Bad to read "0 comments" below post after post. Losing you mojo? Cmon! Modi is still the CM, Thackerays are still not in jail and Advani still dreams of becoming PM!

    They need you to show them the way, o sekulaar judge of everything!

  2. F&F:

    Am touched...you know how it is when you are showing the way...you don't look back to see who is following or even patting your back or trying to stab you.

    It's a satvik attitude. One day when you get out of the tunnel where you flash a torchlight at bats that look like mullahs to you, you will feel enlightened, son...

    PS: As long as I continue to write, my mojo is in my manger.


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