The recent showdown between India and Pakistan – threatening to burst into a war for annihilation – at its core, seems like a Silver Screen interaction between Rajnikanth (India) and Rangeela (Pakistan).

Keeping aside the nuclear launch codes (who cares about that, I mean), in the left corner of the ring, wearing fanatical orange trunks, sporting an overgrown sense of self-esteem, twirly moustache, pitch-black sunglasses (in the middle of the night), hair moving in slow-motion, with the background theme song of “We will rock you”, is India. In the right corner, sporting self-righteous green trunks, a Charlie Chaplin moustache, funny blonde wig, an uncharacteristically menacing stare, and head-bobbing (slightly) to the tune of “Zalima coca-cola pilaa de”, is Pakistan.

Prepping India for the fight is its star-spangled coach, and a plush team of trainers from all across the Western world. There is music, there is swagger, and a hopelessly misplaced sense of inevitability; after all its Rajnikanth. In Pakistan’s corner, the mood is far more pensive. Not because of fear. No. Instead, only because the Mandarin coach and Red-Army trainer always wear a straight face, and have no taste for pop-music!

What are they fighting over? Nothing. And everything.

History would narrate a time when Rajnikanth and Rangeela lived together. No, no… it was not a civil union. In fact, civility had nothing to do with it. Living together, in their case, was simply an accident of history that stretches back some 600 years. In any case, almost seven decades ago, the two had a messy divorce. And the incumbent fight is partly a custody battle.

Now, usually, nobody would care if Rajnikanth and Rangeela decided to have a sweaty dangal. Except, in this case, fists are not the only weapons in play. Both of them have a few hand-grenades that can level the entire arena. Thus the global interest in this contest.

In the lead up to this stand-off, Rajnikanth (being Rajnikanth!) has foolishly believed that he has the unnatural ability to walk on fire, demolish an army with one punch, and conclusively walk away with custody, leaving Rangeela mesmerized by his herculean stunts. His supporters, and in particular his well-funded PR agents, have convinced him and themselves, that the gravity-defying stunts of Rajnikanth would instantly overpower Rangeela, and before Rangeela pulls himself together, Rajnikanth, shooting laser from his eyes, would be walking into the sunset, victorious, whistling the tune of the ‘Last of the Mohicans’.

Rangeela, on the other hand, has been far more reluctant to have this brawl. Known, even across his own fan-base, as a miscalculating fella, Rangeela knew that any confrontation with Rajnikanth would stack the world against him. Unlike Rajnikanth, Rangeela has no PR agent (to speak of) who can either solicit support, or spin stories about how Rangeela can fly through the air, and how he always gets the girl! To the contrary, most days, Rangeela has trouble convincing his own constituents about the sincerity of his actions. And to make matters worse, Rangeela’s autistic left hand continues, every once in a while, to stab his own leg.

But this standoff – between the deluded and the disheveled – has gone long enough. If posturing was the aim, that much has been achieved, and more. It is time, now, for saner heads to prevail.

India needs to wake up to the rude realisation that the self-aggrandizing rhetoric of a Rajnikanth-esque persona is deluded at best, and destructive at worst. Rajnikanth cannot actually fly. Nor can he catch bullets between his teeth. Just the way Sunny Deol cannot actually take on ten opponents at a time.

While India is bigger than Pakistan, has more tanks and a Dabang Salman Khan, none of these can achieve an outright victory in war with Pakistan. Sadly, a new generation of young Indians, who have grown up in the age of economic prosperity and (some) cricketing success, seem to believe that war will be like a Bollywood flick; where Indian soldiers will walk in slow motion across the border, lead by Akshay Kumar perhaps, and be back home in time for “party shuru huwi hai”. And this kind of hubris has marked the downfall of many a nations, far greater than present-day India.

In the worst-case scenario, even if Pakistan finds itself outmatched in the conventional war apparatus, there will be no other option but to turn to non-conventional warfare. And neither Pakistan nor India would survive what happens next.

The problems, as far as Pakistan and its Rangeela are concerned, are even graver. The nation is sandwiched between two confrontational borders, working in collaboration with each other. But that is not the worst of it; there is also that small business of fighting an internal war against terror, not all of which is sponsored by foreign elements (e.g. India). Pakistan needs to confront the reality that extremism, even against the State and people of Pakistan, is (at least partially) a homegrown issue for the nation. While Brahamdagh Bugti, Kul Bushan Yadav, and even Altaf Hussain might be Indian agents, but there are hundreds more, not linked to India, who pose an existential threat to Pakistan.

Rangeela cannot be a tragic jester on the world stage, anymore. Having sacrificed the most in war against extremism, the scars on Rangeela’s body have to bear testament to his honest desire to rid himself of this evil. And to convince the world of its desire to coexist peacefully. For this, our professional Khaki command must be supplemented with an equally mature political leadership. One that has the desire and impetus to shed Rangeela’s bumbling persona, and reclaim the promise of its creation.

All-out war is not an option for Pakistan. Not because we cannot win. But because we should not have to. The price of war, in the nuclear South Asia, is one that humanity cannot afford to pay.

One almost wishes that Quaid and Gandhi were alive today. Because Quaid would never allow Pakistan to be Rangeela, and Gandhi would have hated being Rajnikanth.

It is time to dial-down this relentless, ugly, jingoistic drum-beating of war. And instead, walk in the legacy of the great men who created these two countries in the name of peace.