I meant to write about something else this fortnight but then you see, I got all busy and worked up trying to figure out these new immigration laws that us Indian, but non-Maharashtrian, musicians have to deal with sooner or later. I mean, now that the new immigration department of Mumbai has told even the legendary Amitabh Bachchan that he isn’t welcome in Mumbai any longer, I guess we lesser mortals had better pack up and leave for places with friendlier climes, or we had better go stand in long queues and apply for Maharashtrian visas.
Oh look, who’s going to be joining me in the visa queues! Santoor great, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma! No offence meant, but after all, he’s from Jammu, so he will need a new Mumbai/Maharashtra visa, won’t he? And that man there, with the long thin tube-like case under his arm? Doesn’t he look like Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia? Of course, that’s him, and rightly so, because he is a UP-wala after all. Who’s the guy humming Piya Basanti behind him? Looks familiar, doesn’t he? He’s the great sarangi nawaz, Ustad Sultan Khan. They say he’s from Sikar, Rajasthan, so of course he needs to be in this queue.
I have to say that this is turning out to be one long rocking queue—tabla nawaz Zakir Hussain with brother Fazal Qureshi and Taufiq Qureshi (their father came from Punjab and while the three brothers were born in Mumbai, the immigration department still hasn’t decided whether or not to grant them a naturalization certificate), Pandit Ram Narain, sarangi nawaz (from Rajasthan), Maihar gharana sitar veteran Pandit Kartik Kumar (originally from Bengal), Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj (originally from Haryana) and many more.
Zakir Hussain: Where’s your visa?
And a rule has to be applied for everyone, so come on, Sonu Nigam, Kumar Sanu, Sunidhi Chauhan, Richa Sharma, K.K., Shreya Ghoshal, Ismail Darbar, Pritam, Himesh Reshammiya, Gulzar sahab, Javed Akhtar, Shankar Mahadevan and all the others. No, it doesn’t matter that you’ve given the music-loving public of this country some of their favourite songs. The point is, you’re not from Maharashtra even if you have made it your home. Get into the visa queue before you are pulled out of your homes like that unfortunate taxi driver who was pulled out of his taxi and pummelled by the new immigration officers of Maharashtra.
By the way, I have not one, but two questions for the officers. What are their views on artistes such as the legendary Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle or, for that matter, Kishori Amonkar? Strictly speaking, they are from Goa, and that isn’t part of Maharashtra, is it? So would they too have to stand in the queue for visa applicants? Or, will they be exempted, and on what grounds? And sir, what would you like me to do? I am married to a true-blue Mumbaikar, Aneesh Pradhan, whose parents are from communities that are considered to be among the earliest inhabitants of Mumbai. Now, in most civilized countries, you are granted citizenship if you marry a citizen of a country. So, do I become a Mumbaikar by marriage, even though I am from bhaiyya-land Uttar Pradesh?
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