Keep art and culture away from politics: Ghulam Ali

Ghulam Ali
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By Prashant Kumar

New Delhi– Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali has urged the people and the governments of India and Pakistan to “keep art and culture away from politics”.

Ustad Ghulam Ali during dubbing of his debut acting venture at a Delhi studio.
Ustad Ghulam Ali during dubbing of his debut acting venture at a Delhi studio.

“People should keep art and culture away from politics. One should own and do only such things that can do good for the relations of the two countries,” Ali, 75, told IANS in an interview here.

His comments came just days after an event where he was scheduled to unveil the music of Indian film “Ghar Wapsi” was cancelled after protestors of a little-known Hindu group had raised slogans against the celebrated singer.

Slamming the protestors, he said one should always try to maintain good relations with neighbours. “Neighbours are the closest relatives.”

Over the past few months, the legendary ghazal singer has been facing protests from a section of society in India. Even his concerts have been cancelled because of the protests by some caste groups and political parties, including the Shiv Sena in Mumbai.

Ali, who marked his entry into Indian cinema with the popular “Chupke chupke raat din” in B.R. Chopra’s “Nikaah”, said his fans are disappointed over repeated cancellations of his shows and concerts.

“There are others (the fans) who are more disappointed as they could not get to hear my songs,” an emotional Ali said, adding that “music has no boundaries”.

He stressed that these intermittent disruptions are “not good”.

“I don’t feel good about it, and I hope it gets well soon… My fans love me a lot, and this is the reason why I choose to come again and again.”

Ali also urged people to refrain from unnecessary debates and sloganeering. “If at all you want to speak about each other (India and Pakistan), speak good so that both the parties can benefit. Speaking things that hurt the people of both the countries is not good at all,” he observed.

Earlier, his concerts in Mumbai were cancelled following threats and protests from the Shiv Sena. Ali had then said he would never come back to India but has made a number of visits to the country after that.

Ali is making his acting debut in the Suhaib Ilyasi-directed “Ghar Wapsi”, about a family unable to cope up with the cultural dichotomy during their homecoming.

Asked whether he would consider acting in more films, he said: “See, I am not an actor. My work is to sing. It’s just because Ilyasiji said, I agreed to face the camera. I do not have any such plan. (I) Will not act in any more movies.”

He, however, described his maiden attempt in acting as a good experience and said: “It was not challenging at all.”


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