Frayed relations between India and Pakistan cast their shadow on cultural exchange from time to time, which is why artistes from across the border are rarely allowed a long stay here. Singer Adnan Sami's case has proven to be an exception as the Indian government has allowed him to stay here for an indefinite period. (Read the full story)
The Lahore-based singer arrived in this country in 2001 on work visa which was extended on many occasions. His Pakistani passport issued on May 27, 2010 expired on May 26, 2015 and was not renewed by the government of his home country. As a result, he was forced to approach the Home Ministry here with the request to legalise his stay in India on humanitarian grounds.
However, many artistes from across the border have not been as lucky as Sami and have faced various legal and political issues with regard to their visit to India. In fact, some actors were forced to delay their plans or cancel their visit altogether. Last year too, after a political party opposed a Pakistani band's live concert, it had to be called off at the last minute.
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An industry source says, "More than authorities, some political outfits create problems for these artistes despite possessing valid documents. The process of getting proper permission is not that difficult as they get working visa easily. But the people around them make it problematic for them to secure a visa. However, there are exceptions like Adnan and singer-actors Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam who have been working in India for many years now and have barely faced any problems as far as work permits are concerned."
hitlist takes a look at Pakistani artistes who faced visa issues in the last few years…
He made his Bollywood debut last year opposite Bipasha Basu in 'Creature 3D', but had to miss out on the pre-release promotions as his visa was rejected thrice. It was said that due to internal political situation, the actor could not complete his paperwork on time and had to miss the film's trailer launch, although he had managed to come here for a channel launch in the early part of 2014. In what can be termed as déjà vu, the actor was recently debarred from entering Lucknow for the promotional tour of his forthcoming film, Janisaar, since his visa was valid for limited cities. Consequently, the entire Lucknow trip was cancelled. Speaking to hitlist, the actor had said, "Before starting the city tours, my visa was sorted for eight cities. However, when I was in Lucknow, I was informed that my Chandigarh visa had to be cancelled. My emergency application too was not approved because of the tedious paperwork." Now, he will not be able to attend the premiere of his film as his visa was valid till yesterday (August 5).
Also read: Pakistani actor Imran Abbas caught in political turmoil
This Pakistani bombshell, who stepped into B-Town with 'Raja Natwarlal' (2014) opposite Emraan Hashmi, faced several issues relating to her visa before she joined the shoot in Mumbai. This sent the makers into a tizzy. After much delay, the film rolled, but she had to return to her homeland midway as she was on a work permit visa and the shoot couldn't be completed before its expiry. "We had to pull a few strings to get my visa but it came through in 15-20 days," she said when she re-obtained a visa and resumed shoot.
Soon to be seen as Shah Rukh Khan's heroine in 'Raees', this actress also went through a harrowing time after applying for a visa to come here for the launch of her Pakistani TV show last year. "I wish art and artistes had no boundaries like birds who can fly anywhere without restrictions," Mahira had told hitlist then. Later, she was allowed to come to the country and shoot for her Bolly film. Recently, her latest Pakistani film 'Bin Roye' was banned in Maharashtra after a political party threaten to disrupt the release due to ceasefire violation by the neighbouring country.
In 2008, the Pakistani-British actor shot for a small but significant part in Jagmohan Mundhra's 'Shoot On Sight' in Mumbai, but when the film was ready for premiere, he was denied a visa to India as the 26/11 terror attacks had just rocked Mumbai. He was then quoted as saying: "I need to be in Mumbai and work in Bollywood. I might have had visa problems while coming to Mumbai because I am a dual passport holder (Pakistani and British)." Around the same time, two Pakistani comedians (Nadeem and Ehsaan) working in Mumbai were also asked to fly back.
Facing the music
In June 2012, four Pakistani singers — Arif Lohar, Javed Bashir, Imran Aziz Mian and Sahir Ali Bagga — delivered two popular songs, 'Tumhi Ho Bandhu' and 'Daaru Desi', for Saif Ali Khan's home production 'Cocktail'. The film starring him alongside Diana Penty and Deepika Padukone went on to become a hit and the songs topped the music charts. However, the makers and the singers had to abort their plans of a grand music launch in India as they failed to get their visa. Besides, ghazal singer Ghulam Ali also wasn't given permission to visit the country post the 26/11 terror attacks while Rahat Fateh Ali Khan had to record songs online or in another country and then send it to composers in India.
Mind the visa rules
>> Tourist visa – Valid for 180 days (not extendable)
>> Business visa – Valid for five years (extendable)
>> Employment visa – Valid for a year/ period of contract (extendable)
>> The application must be submitted at least six weeks before travel
>> At least three working days are required to process the case and issue a visa depending upon the nationality, excluding special cases
>> If visa is for more than 180 days, registration is compulsory within 14 days of arrival in India
Vikram Bhatt, filmmaker
Visa problems have been surfacing due to tense political relations between India and Pakistan. However, officials of the two countries are trying to resolve the matter. So, I don't feel artistes or actors should face much of a problem while applying for visa. But, of course, I don't know embassy rules and regulations. There is a kind of rage amongst people because of bomb blasts, attacks, mass killings and it comes out in these forms (visa rejection). Till the time these matters remain unsolved, strange behaviour will continue. I can only talk about my country and don't know their sentiments