There’s no denying that political tensions between India and Pakistan have always taken a toll on people-to-people contact. But, one thing is clear: whenever politics divides, art becomes the bridge between the two countries, with people such as Om Puri standing out as the voice of reason and the likes of Fawad Khan speaking about a non-divisive future at the brink of war.
A recent example is that of Lollywood’s leading music composer Wajahat Attray. As the news of his severely deteriorating health travelled across the border through social media, the cream of Bollywood musicians came forth to provide support to the Pakistani artist, claims his son, Ali Attray. Wajahat has been admitted in Al Shafi Hospital in Iqbal Town, Lahore, following a brain stroke. He is now partially paralysed and also facing heart problems.
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Stating that his father did everything within his ability to help the music industry flourish, Ali is disappointed at the Pakistani government not offering any financial help for his father’s treatment. Wajahat composed music for more than 150 Pakistani films and most of them including Mukhra, Sholay, Ishq Khuda and Naukar Wohti Da went on to become box office hits.
“No government authority has contacted us. My father and grandfather [Rashid Attray] spent their lives serving the music and film industry. But when the artist and his family is going through a rough patch, the government is nowhere to be seen,” Ali told The Express Tribune.
“My father has struggled so much in the industry. He has worked so hard for so long and taken so much stress. He never stopped working. He continued to compose music even during times of crisis and it is extremely upsetting that the people he did so much for have not even bothered to inquire about him.”
Known to be a giving person, Wajahat always maintained an honest and respectable rapport with his colleagues from across the border, which has prompted renowned Bollywood singers to contact his family and offer monetary help. “Indian artists are so concerned about my father’s health that they have been calling me continuously and are worried about his situation. Bollywood singers including Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal, Hans Raj Hans and Sukhwinder Singh have even offered to pay for his treatment. They said they are offering all the help because they learnt so much from him,” shared Ali. “His friends from Bollywood have also proposed the idea of taking my father to India for better medical treatment.”
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Ali is particularly taken aback by the fact that it’s not just the government that has been ignorant on this matter; the members of the film and music fraternity have also not paid his father a visit. These include artists such as Anwar Rafi and Humera Arshad, who started off their careers with Wajahat’s constant advice and assistance. “Don’t they see that it isn’t just sad that your homegrown artist is getting help from India? It’s actually depressing.”
Wajahat’s deteriorating health is not the first case in which an ailing artist has requested the government for its support. In many cases, the government has also risen up to the occasion but certain factions in the entertainment industry are of the opinion that dedicated guilds for artists is the only permanent solution to this recurring problem.
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