"I’m okay with being the dushman if it brings some dosti to us bickering neighbours"
Pakistani star Urwa Hocane has lashed out at Swara Bhasker after she made comments of Pakistan being a “failing state” owing to its ban of the Bollywood film, Veere Di Wedding.
Bhasker, who is currently enjoying the immense success of the all-female comedy, where she stars alongside Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Shikha Talsania, admitted that she was not surprised over the film’s ban in the neighbouring state.
When asked about the Pakistani censor board’s decision in a cast interview with film critic Rajeev Masand, the outspoken Swara said:
“For some reason, I have to keep answering for that. I don’t know why people think I’m a spokesperson for the Pakistani government. What do you expect from a state that’s run by Sharia Laws?
“They’re a non-secular state. I’m not surprised at all. Why should we hold up Pakistan, which is a failing state — I don’t understand why we keep taking pleasure and feeling a sense of self-worth from all the silly things that happen in Pakistan.
“Apologies to all my Pakistani friends right now… Rest assured, Pakistanis have way worse vocabulary than we do. I know.”
Following the interview with Masand, the actress’s comments went viral across social media.
Many Pakistani fans were quick to point out the hypocrisy in Swara’s comments as she had in fact visited Pakistan twice before, and spoken about her love for the country, its people and its language.
Following her first visit in 2005 with then another in 2015, Swara said in an appearance on the popular Pakistani talk show, Mazaaq Raat:
“My friend and I came here and found that the state which is often viewed as the enemy state, is absolutely not like that at all.
“The amount of love we have received here. I have travelled to a lot of places, London, New York, Paris, Istanbul, they are all nothing compared to Lahore.”
Picking up on the rapid reversal of her opinions, fans from both India and Pakistan began lashing out.
Notably, Rangreza actress, Urwa Hocane also responded to Swara’s comments with a series of tweets. She said:
“Pakistan is the country that you @ReallySwara referred to,in 2015, as the “Best country you have ever visited” and it has only gotten better in the last few years in every aspect along with when it comes to having bigger hearts and welcoming our guests . 1/3
“2/3 While you’re on this spree of empowering women,i must say you’ve become a bitter person. And all of this is odd coming from a citizen of a state that bans their own films i.e. #Padmavat so let’s not talk about women empowerment.”
“3/3 This only reflects on u as an ignorant person who is also quiet contradictory in her own statements. It’s not a failing state for sure but u come across as a “Failing Human Being” !!! @ReallySwara
“From the citizen of the Phenomenal Pakistan.”
— URWA HOCANE (@VJURWA) June 2, 2018
Over the years, Indian cinema has shared a somewhat turbulent relationship with Pakistan and her censor board.
Many Bollywood films have been banned due to strict regulations and conservative attitudes. Some of these include Pad Man, which spoke about the stigma of menstruation, and Alia Bhatt’s Raazi which covered Indo-Pak themes.
Interestingly, Urwa was quick to point out that India was not without its own conservatism. Particularly when considering the intense rioting that issued over the historical epic, Padmaavat. The film which caused such public outcry was pushed back and edited before it could finally be released.
Later in an interview with The Express Tribune, Urwa said: “I did what any Pakistani should and would do if such remarks are made about their motherland. When you know the comments are false, you must correct the one saying them with truth.
She added: “I’m not saying our country doesn’t have its flaws; no place is perfect. But we’re blessed with so much! The flaws are a small fraction as compared to what we are made of. I just want to say get to know us before judging.”
Many others share Urwa’s sentiments and have also reacted to Bhasker’s comments.
While many Bollywood fans across the border, including women, were initially saddened that they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the film, they have since changed their own minds:
@ReallySwara I’m Pakistani & a fan, will always be one as long as you continue to act well and choose to be a part of good content but your comments abt#Pakistan were distasteful. Even if we’re a failed secular shariah let state, we’re a huge market for ur content #SwaraBhaskar
— Hamza Amjad (@hamzamjad) June 2, 2018
So because Pakistan banned a Bollywood movie for being too vulgar we are “a failed state” but in India where BJP was offering reward money for bhansali & deepika’s head as well as violently protesting the movie Padmavat is completely normal. Ok. #VeereDiWedding #SwaraBhasker
— komal (@koms92) June 3, 2018
When you’re promoting women empowerment and your own country bans Padmavat and wants the actress dead for playing a role but you still have the nerve to talk shit about Pakistan. Kindly stoop down to your level and enlighten us about your own country or should i? #SwaraBhaskar
— Aisha Saeed (@ayeshasaeed674) June 2, 2018
#swarabhaskar i am really disappointed. You are an amazing actor but the way you are addressing our country and talking about it, is simply disrespectful. Yes #VeereydiWedding is banned in #pakistan. You are saying you don't care yet you are breathless talking cr** about it.
— Jinaan Hussain (@sundustariq08) June 2, 2018
Im an Indian n I’m clearly opposing #SwaraBhaskar u don’t have any rights to say a country a failing state
— ?Nemo? (@nimi8964) June 3, 2018
Aside from Urwa, other Pakistani stars have also responded, with Gohar Rasheed tweeting his own series of responses:
In your interview you said “#Pakistan is a failing state, I don’t understand why we keep taking pleasure and feeling sense of self worth from all the things that happens in #Pakistan”. Let me inform you that #Pakistan is the 5th largest market for Bollywood films, (4/10)
— Gohar Rasheed (@GoharRsd) June 3, 2018
Yet, rather than be deterred by the hate she is receiving, Swara has since stood by her remarks, and is happy to be seen as a common enemy that can ‘unite’ the two countries:
“Dushman ka dushman Dost!!! I’m totally okay with with being the dushman in this case if it brings some dosti to us bickering neighbours 🙂 🙂 Peace and love guys!”
???? Dushman ka dushman Dost!!! I’m totally okay with with being the dushman in this case if it brings some dosti to us bickering neighbours 🙂 🙂 Peace and love guys! ?? https://t.co/Fz82K6Wj9b
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) June 3, 2018
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) June 3, 2018
She later added:
“There should we a distinction between States/ govts of a country & the people of that country. My regard for & goodwill towards the people of #Pakistan remains unchanged. Some of my closest friends are Pakistani. Lahore remains one of my soul cities.”
While Swara appears to be alone in her contradictory opinions and statements about Pakistan, co-star Sonam Kapoor did make a small attempt to defend her friend, saying:
“I think people just like to troll her because she has an opinion and a point of view and I guess that shows how much they love her because the other side of hate is always love. So Swara, you have a lot of lovers.”
On the verge of receiving similar backlash, Sonam then clarified:
“My defence of her has nothing to do with her comments on Pakistan! Get your fact right and stop trying to spread mischief and hate!”
Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding its cast members, the female buddy film, Veere Di Wedding, is certainly leaving a lasting impact on both critics and audiences.
Dubbed as a revolutionary film for women in Bollywood, the movie is doing incredibly well at the Box Office, having earned an impressive Rs. 48 Crore in the space of five days.