Mumbai, March 20 (Calcutta Tube) Pakistani actress 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 percent of her Indian earnings as taxes.
She was asked: ‘What was the general reaction in Pakistan and your opinion on Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan being detained in India for FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act) violations?’
Veena Malik: Dekhiye hamare mulk mein bahut sari baatein kahin gayi isske bare mein (People said a lot of things) : Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Saab 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. But 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 laws here. I feel happy that the laws are followed so scrupulously in India. Fateh Ali Saab was earning so much money in India. In my opinion, he should’ve paid his taxes in the proper way.
Q. So you think the hue and cry against his detention was uncalled for?
A. Main aapko ek baat bataaon? (Shall I tell you something?) If a female Pakistani artiste had been similarly detained in India, Pakistani reactions would’ve been different. Because that was Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Saab, they said, let him go.
If it was Veena Malik, they’d have said where did she get this money from? Mere upar itna kichad oochala jata. I’d have been sullied and damned. I’d like to tell my people: Khuda ke vaste double standards khatam karo. Let’s treat men and women equally.
Q. How do you pay taxes in India when Pakistani artistes are not allowed to open bank accounts in India?
A. I paid 40 percent 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.
Q. And what are you currently doing in India?
A. 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. And when people like Anshuman Gaekwadji and Chetan Sharmaji ask me if I’ve been doing cricket commentary for a long time… I’m deeply flattered. Because 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.
Q. Any film offers in India?
A. 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.
Hmmm…why do I get the feeling that I won’t be returning to Pakistan for a while? (chuckles).