"We took her right away as an actor! Unfair!”
Rahul Dholakia has expressed a desire for Pakistani artists to return to India.
The Raees director’s request came after the Pakistan cricket team arrived in India for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup.
On X, Rahul said: “Now that Pakistani cricketers are officially here, can we also invite Pakistani actors to act in our films? Or musicians to perform?”
In his film, Mahira Khan starred alongside Shah Rukh Khan.
It was Mahira’s Bollywood debut and her casting proved popular.
When Raees was due to hit cinema screens, Mahira was unable to promote the film in India, but she released a statement, highlighting the film’s importance.
Mahira had said: “Whether it was Shah Rukh Khan, Ritesh Batra, Farhan Akhtar or Rahul, they have all been so amazing.
“It was important for Raees to be released and do well at the box office.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about films, which is bigger than all of us combined.”
Rahul Dholakia showed his support for Mahira’s statement and whilst he shared the post to his own X account, he commented that as a Pakistani artist, Mahira had been misunderstood.
Rahul said: “Somewhere I feel we have wronged her.
“Our people forgot that she is an artist and not the enemy! We took her right away as an actor! Unfair!”
However, Rahul’s recent tweet has received a mixed reaction, with some wondering why he wanted to work with Pakistani actors.
One individual said: “Sir, India has a lot of talent. If you are unable to find good actors in India then you should leave your line [of work].
“Why are Bollywood people so obsessed with Pakistani people?”
Another person said: “Why don’t you admit that you are missing your Raees heroine?”
Following the URI attack in 2016, Pakistani artists were forbidden from working in India.
A statement read: “In relation to the Pakistani government banning Indian movies in Pakistan AICWA (All Indian Cine Workers Association) urges all the film industries to put a complete stop to any association with Pakistani artists, musicians, and diplomats.”
Mahira Khan is not the first Pakistani artist to have worked in Bollywood.
In the past, Javed Sheikh has been part of the likes of Om Shanti Om and Namastey London.
Fawad Khan has also shared screen space with Sonam Kapoor in the movie Khoobsurat.
Singer-turned-actor Ali Zafar has also been a part of numerous Bollywood movies and has worked with Katrina Kaif, Imran Khan and Kirron Kher, in titles such as Total Siyapa and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.
When it comes to musical talents, the likes of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam have offered their vocals to many hit Bollywood movies.