MUMBAI: Pakistani actor Veena Malik, who climbed the popularity and controversy charts alike with Indian reality show “Bigg Boss”, says singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan should follow Indian laws and pay taxes, adding that she pays 40 per cent of her Indian earnings in tax.
What was the general reaction in Pakistan and your opinion on Rahat Fateh Ali Khan being detained in India for FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act) violations?
Malik: People said a lot of things like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is an artiste and so he should have been treated with leniency. I disagree. In my opinion, he was let off lightly with just a fine. The Indian laws are equally applicable to Indians and Pakistanis.
Look at what Salman Khan has gone through for his black-buck case or Sanjay Dutt. In spite of being Indians, they’ve faced the full impact of the law. I feel happy that laws are followed scrupulously in India. Rahat Fateh Ali was earning so much money in India. In my opinion, he should’ve paid his taxes the proper way.
So you think the hue and cry against his detention was uncalled for?
Shall I tell you something? If a female Pakistani artiste had been similarly detained in India, Pakistani reactions would’ve been different. Because it was Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, they said, let him go.
If it was Veena Malik, they’d have said where did she get this money from? I’d have been sullied and damned. I’d like to ask my people to treat men and women equally.
How do you pay taxes in India when Pakistani artistes are not allowed to open bank accounts in India?
I paid 40 per cent taxes on my earnings from “Bigg Boss”. They deducted the tax at source. My money was transferred to me in Pakistan. That’s the way to do it. I’ve never accepted cash for any of my commitments in India. I am clear on this. If I am paying taxes in Pakistan, I’ll pay them here as well.
And what are you currently doing in India?
I am doing two reality shows. After being on “Big Boss”, I got offers from four Indian television channels to host cricket shows. I also got an offer to do the new season of “Fear Factor”. But the stunts, particularly those requiring me to eat alien things, were too disgusting for me. So I declined the offer although friends advised me to go for it.
I’ve worked with a news channel in Pakistan as well. When I got a chance to do a cricket show, I grabbed it. I am having a blast! Specially when people like Anshuman Gaekwadji and Chetan Sharmaji asked me if I’ve been doing cricket commentary for a long time… I’m deeply flattered — I’m doing this for the first time. I don’t think people in any part of the world are as cricket-crazy as in India and Pakistan. As a child, I’d comment on matches from my home as though I was on radio or television.
Any film offers in India?
Oh, yes. There was an offer for an item number in a big film. Then I got an offer to do a film with Aftab Shivdasani. But they had their sets ready and they wanted me to join immediately in March. This month I’ll sign a few films and there are at least a couple of other reality shows which are almost finalised. I’m supposed to return to Pakistan on April 2.
Hmm… why do I get the feeling that I won’t be returning to Pakistan for a while?