Around this time last year, cultural diplomacy between India and Pakistan was truly at a transformational stage, with Fawad Khan’s nuanced and mature performance in the romantic drama, Kapoor and Sons being appreciated and applauded from all quarters of Bollwyood and even the aam aadmi of India without any ‘nationality’ prejudice. Given his down-to-earth demeanour and chivalrous persona, he was the classic example of the ‘perfect man’ who didn’t need to flex his muscles to make a point. His baritone voice, refined sartorial choices, and endearing smile were good enough to welcome this Khan with an open arm.
All was good and dreamlike until September when relations between India and Pakistan plummeted. The timing was unfortunate, as Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was about to hit theatres at the end of the month. The film featured Fawad in a pivotal role and since the promotion of the film was at its peak, the face of a brilliant actor was quickly equated as a ‘Pakistani actor’. What followed was a series of debates and discussions and finally a ban on Pakistani actors. The move was condemned and applauded at the same time, but bearing the brunt of this decision weren’t only Pakistani actors, but also those Indian fans who had made ‘Fawad watching’ a staple of their television diet through Zindagi channel, which too took all Pakistani soaps and films of air.
Nevertheless, Indian fans have been keeping a tab on the 35-year-old actor through social media and are regularly updated about the developments — both in personal and professional front through his verified Facebook page. “He is terribly missed,” admits Neena Raheja, a 27-year-old advertising professional.
“I am a film buff and with everything being aired on social media these days I am updated about his upcoming projects in Pakistan. If this ban had not happened then I am sure we would have seen more of him in India,” she adds.
Kriti Malhotra, a PR professional, confesses that she has watched Kapoor and Sons close to ten times just to see Fawad Khan. “He was too good in the film. There is a fine balance in his acting and undoubtedly he is way too charming. If he were still here, it would have been interesting to see what kind of films he would have signed,” she says.
“Until now, he had done a certain kind of films, I am sure he would have loved to experiment and would have surprised us with his choice of roles. But, alas! This hasn’t happened. I sincerely wish things become better soon between the two nations,” she adds.
Thirty-three-year-old Ankush Adhikari, a photographer had assumed that the ban would be short-lived “I never thought it would stretch for so long. It is indeed ridiculous to pull artists and actors in this debate and make them scapegoats. Cultural dialogues should always be kept open. The politicians of two countries still meet then why can’t actors work here again,” he wonders.
Often in a big and competitive industry like Bollywood where the adage, ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ fits in perfectly, it is highly surprising how the enigma of Fawad Khan is still fresh in public memory. “Well, what has happened is unfortunate. But the reason why people still remember him is because he often came across as a gentleman. He shared good equations with all his colleagues and never became a subject of gossip mills. Also, he was able to win everyone over with his acting. These things make him a complete package. I have interacted with him on a personal level and I would like him to come back soon. He came as a breath of fresh air, with no ego and attitude,” says a Mumbai-based journalist who wished to remain anonymous.
Fifty-three-year-old Pushpa Gupta was hoping that she would get to see the ‘Khoobsurat’ actor during film award functions. “I watch film awards every year and if this ban wouldn’t have happened, I am sure he would have been invited to perform at any of the film awards. Since we have missed the opportunity this time, I hope we would see him soon,” she says.
“Last year he had hosted IIFA Awards, I just hope that he is invited there. They don’t happen in India na… I am keeping my fingers crossed,” she adds with a mischievous wink in her eyes.
Well, all we can do is wait, watch and pray until the ban is revoked and we can again feast our eyes on him.