Should theater be banned in Kashmir

Kashmiri conflict reaches Bollywood

When it comes to cultural diversity and international understanding, there are probably few colleagues who can show Surya Prakash something: As chairman of the Indian public service broadcaster, Prakash - a level-headed gentleman with tinted glasses and a black mustache - takes care of a target group that its religious, linguistic and social diversity is probably unmatched. With its extensive network of local transmitters, "Prasar Bharati" broadcasts to the furthest corners of the subcontinent.

However, when it comes to neighboring Pakistan, even Surya Prakash's words become extraordinarily direct: "Anyone who is a little sensitive knows that the moment is not the right time to support actors and artists from Pakistan." Mourn Indian victims of terrorism during the main news and show a Pakistani television series after the next commercial? "That is impossible," says the journalist.

Most of his compatriots are likely to feel the same after the recent attacks. Since then, the decades-old conflict over the Kashmir region has been heading for another low point. And this has long been fought on another battlefield: on the local entertainment industry. Anyone visiting Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, these days will get the impression of a real film war.

Protests against Pakistanis

For weeks, angry mobs have been protesting in front of production companies that employ Pakistani employees. The Mumbai film company Indian Motion Picture Producers Association has already imposed a professional ban on Pakistani actors and technicians. As long as the tensions do not subside, they are no longer allowed to participate in Bollywood films. Some film projects are said to have already been put on hold. A local nationalist party even went a step further and urged Pakistani actors to leave the country "or to face the consequences" as soon as possible. Popular Indian actors who speak out publicly against the professional ban get to feel the anger of the angry internet community on social networks.

Political conflicts have always been reflected in the film world. Just think of the infamous James Bond villains that brought about the paranoia of the Cold War: blonde, blue-eyed, East German. Racist stereotypes can also be seen again and again in today's Hollywood productions - for example the "cunning Chinese" or "barbaric Arabs". However, the fact that entire ethnic groups are to be excluded from the film industry is vaguely reminiscent of the situation of Jewish actors during the Nazi era.

Disappointed with Pakistani actors

"The least we would have expected is that the Pakistani actors would raise their voices against the terrorist attacks," says Vijay Chauthaiwale of the Hindu nationalist ruling party BJP. Although he is not calling for a general professional ban, he is disappointed with the Pakistani actors, many of whom are not clearly differentiated from the recent attacks. "I know that they fear the consequences of their government," says the politician.

Even across the border, the Indo-Pakistani film war is not without its consequences: Despite the expected financial losses, large cinema chains in Islamabad and Lahore have withdrawn the Bollywood films popular in Pakistan from their programs out of solidarity. (Fabian Kretschmer from New Delhi, October 24, 2016)