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Uniting Through Music and Film

Aug/13/2023 / by Melanie Fourie

Cultural collaborations between India and Pakistan

An image of India and Pakistan flags
Image via Shutterstock

India and Pakistan have often engaged in cross-cultural collaboration with musical performances. Pakistani performers have also made inroads in India’s film industry, and vice versa. To mark the 76th Independence Day of the two countries, SEEMA celebrates the beauty in cross-cultural connections.

Musical Synergies

Past and modern-day musical collaborations like these have helped bridge the divide.

Ghulam Ali and Asha Bhosle

Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali popularized ghazals and Sufi music in Indian homes in the early 1970s. Ali also collaborated with Indian songstress Asha Bhosle to provide vocals for a handful of 1980s Bollywood films. The Times of India and the Jang Group in Pakistan launched the Aman Ki Asha initiative in 2010 to foster cultural exchange and harmony in the region. The initiative kicked off a string of concerted campaigns to promote cultural interchange via music in India.

Pasooriby Ali Sethi and Shae Gill

Although the global hit song “Pasoori” sung by Pakistani musicians Ali Sethi and Shae Gill is purportedly about forlorn lovers, it is a fitting parallel for the two nations, who have always seemed at odds. Released in 2022, this song has been praised for its impact across borders. The name “Pasoori,” which means “difficulty”, was inspired by Sethi’s struggles with the impassable borders between the two countries which often prevented him from performing in India.

The song’s lyrics are in Punjabi, a dialect spoken in both countries. A remake of “Pasoori” has subsequently been released for the Indian film “Satyaprem Ki Katha“, written by Sethi and Indian writer Gurpreet Saini, with vocals by Arijit Singh.

Pakistanis in Indian Films

These Pakistani actors have made their mark in Indian films.

Sajal Ali 

Although Sajal Ali has been in the industry for some time, the success of her TV show Gul-e-Rana took Pakistan by storm. Sajal also spent time in India to film the Indian movie “Mom”.

Fawad Khan

In 2014, Khan won the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut for his leading performance in the Bollywood film Khoobsurat. He was also nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Kapoor & Sons in 2016, for which he gained widespread recognition.

Mahira Khan 

Khan gained prominence for playing Khirad Hussain in the romantic drama Humsafar. For this role, she won several awards. In 2017, she starred alongside Shah Rukh Khan in the Bollywood film Raees.

Saba Qamar 

Qamar is one of Pakistan’s most renowned and highest-paid performers. In the 2017 romantic comedy Hindi Medium, her character Meeta was praised by critics. She was nominated for the Filmfare Best Actress Award.

Indians in Pakistani Films

These Indian actors have established themselves with Pakistani audiences.

Naseeruddin Shah

A trailblazer in Indian cinema, Naseeruddin Shah is universally praised for his intensity and onscreen presence. He has demonstrated his acting skills in Indian films and two highly profitable Pakistani flicks. “Khuda Ke Liye” was a 2007 film starring Naseeruddin and Fawad Khan, among others. In 2013, Shah starred in another huge hit in Pakistan titled “Zinda Bhagh”.

Shweta Tiwari

Indian Shweta Tiwari, the winner of “Bigg Boss 4”, became a fan favorite as Prerna on “Kausauti Zindagi Kay.” Shweta has appeared in Hindi dramas, reality programs, and movies, and she has also acted in the Pakistani movie “Sultanat”. After its theatrical debut, the film was also adapted into a hit TV series.

Om Puri 

Since he could perform in a multitude of languages, it was no surprise that Om Puri was considered one of the best performers in international films. He won two National Awards and was highly regarded for his author-endorsed parts. In 2016, the film “Actor in Law”, in which he was featured, was released in Pakistan to rave reviews.

Kirron Kher 

Kher has gained broad recognition for her acting in a variety of critically acclaimed films. In the 2003 Pakistani film “Khamosh Pani” she portrayed a widow experiencing segregation. Kher won the award for Best Actress at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland for her exceptional work in the movie.