The Times of India newspaper has reported that Zafar has been offered a role in David Dhawan’s next film, tentatively titled Chasme Badoor.
According to the newspaper, his plans to relocate to Mumbai from Lahore to seriously pursue a career in Bollywood are on hold. The reason? He needs a permanent visa for India. The newspaper says that the Indian government is yet to grant the actor a permanent visa. It claims that Zafar will now return to Pakistan and will travel to India next month for a short period. Zafar’s wife and son were visiting Mumbai for a while but they have also returned to Lahore.
The Times of India quoted Zafar as saying, “The visa for permanent residency is still to be obtained. I’m working on a temporary visa. And unless I get the permission for a more permanent residence I cannot make comprehensive plans for a career here in India.”
However, when contacted, Ali Zafarr’s representatives denied these reports and told The Express Tribune, “Ali Zafar has no plans of relocating to India but as he has said in the past, he will travel to wherever his work takes him.”
“The rumours have stemmed from Ali saying that he wants a multiple entry visa as the one he currently has is a three-entry visa and this makes going back and forth from Pakistan to India very difficult,” his representative claimed. “He is receiving a lot of offers for Bollywood films and wants a multiple entry visa as this would make it much easier for him to work in India.”
If Zafar was to try to take up permanent residence in Mumbai then this would be likely to be met by dismay from his fans in Pakistan and be protested by the Hindu nationalist party, Shiv Sena. The party recently staged protests against the inclusion of two Pakistanis, Ali Saleem and Veena Malik, on the reality television show “Bigg Boss”.
In the past Sena members have protested against musician Adnan Sami trying to obtain Indian citizenship. Shiv Sena also took a stand against Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan after he criticised the fact that members of the Pakistani cricket team were not included in the 2010 Indian Premier League and the party demanded that cinemas in India should refuse to screen My Name is Khan.
The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has also condemned Pakistanis working in India before. After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, MNS protested against comedian Shakeel Siddiqui working in India. MNS entertainment cell president Amey Khopkar said at the time, “We got to know that Shakeel was on the ‘Chinchpokli to China’ set so we raided the place. We took him out of the set and told the producers not to hire any Pakistanis. We will not even allow films starring Pakistani actors or singers to be released in Maharashtra.”
Shiv Sena has also protested against the inclusion of Pakistani children in “Chhote Ustaad”, which was being broadcast by the Star TV network.
Published in The Express Tribune