In­dia’s crafts­man­ship and Pak­istan’s tal­ent should work in tan­dem. That’s when cre­ativ­ity will flour­ish.

India Today - - SIGNATURE -

Itake great pride in be­ing in­stru­men­tal in break­ing a 35- year- old ban on In­dian films in Pak­istan, with my film Taj Ma­hal: An Eter­nal Love Story ( 2005). I had writ­ten to the then Pak­istani pres­i­dent Pervez Mushar­raf, that nei­ther the Pak­istani, nor the In­dian gov­ern­ment could deny that when the Taj was built, it was in a united Hin­dus­tan. Ja­hangir is buried in Lahore, his son Shah Ja­han in Agra, Noor Ja­han in Lahore and her niece Mum­taz Ma­hal in Agra. Cinema is the best means of con­nec­tiv­ity and love, and it shouldn’t be stopped by any means.

At that time the film was also shown to Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh and Mon­tek Singh Ah­luwalia. The Prime Min­is­ter said it should be shown to Pak­istan for its mes­sage of love. I told him I had al­ready writ­ten to Pak­istan’s pres­i­dent. We got the per­mis­sion to show our film, and the ban on In­dian films was lifted. A huge del­e­ga­tion, led by then min­is­ter of tourism and cul­ture Am­bika Soni, flew over at Pak­istan’s in­vi­ta­tion, and we got the kind of wel­come re­served for heads of state. Ma­hesh Bhatt fol­lowed with Nazar ( 2005), and that opened the gate for In­dian films.

Pak­istan has great tal­ent— writ­ers, po­ets, singers and ac­tors. But they lack in tech­nol­ogy and ex­per­tise. They do make a few lovely films. I rate di­rec­tor Shoaib Man­soor as world class. His film Khuda Kay Liye ( 2007) was bril­liant. I feel Shaan Shahid is a bril­liant ac­tor. I have al­ways wanted to make a film with him, and feel he has the po­ten­tial to be a su­per­star in In­dia. Ali Za­far is an­other tal­ented ac­tor and singer. Pak­istani TV had once cap­tured In­dian au­di­ences in a big way. There was a huge de­mand for se­ri­als like Mausam, Talaash, Uraan. Their writ­ing, act­ing, mu­sic and lyrics were all top notch, and peo­ple here were ad­dicted to them.

Um­rao Jaan Ada ( 1972) is one Pak­istani film I re­mem­ber. Un­for­tu­nately we didn’t get to see many good Pak­istani films till Bol ( 2011). Ali Haider is a good per­former, Ab­dul Rashid Qadri was a great ac­tor and Noor Je­han was amaz­ing. Her’s was the most beau­ti­ful voice I have ever heard. She was act­ing in films when we were still one, and be­longs to us both, as does Suraiya.

When Taj Ma­hal re­leased in Pak­istan, cinema halls that had shut down were re­opened and ren­o­vated. I feel it is time for a merger of the two in­dus­tries in the dis­tri­bu­tion net­work, which will en­sure si­mul­ta­ne­ous re­lease of films across the bor­der. If our films get proper re­leases in Pak­istan, their dis­trib­u­tors will earn money that they can rein­vest in their in­dus­try. Artists shouldn’t face any prob­lem while work­ing across the bor­der. Pak­istan has good writ­ers we can use, and they can use In­dian di­rec­tors and tech­ni­cians to im­prove the qual­ity of their films. We hire Pak­istani tal­ent, and so can they.

Pun­jabi films, es­sen­tially loud come­dies, have had a long run in Pak­istan. They didn’t need the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, which, along with paucity of funds, hin­dered their de­vel­op­ment. Pak­istan needs to open tech­ni­cal schools for teach­ing di­rec­tion, cin­e­matog­ra­phy and sound de­sign.

Note­wor­thy films from the sub­con­ti­nent were prod­ucts of a uni­fied Hin­dus­tan. Af­ter Par­ti­tion, Pak­istani cinema has never re­ally had a great phase, while the In­dian film in­dus­try kept grow­ing. Even when they do make good films, we rarely get to see them. Film­mak­ers there are happy with a lim­ited au­di­ence. Bring­ing their films to In­dia will earn them ac­claim, and go a long way in pre­sent­ing them to the world.



Ak­bar The au­thor is a well known Bol­ly­wood film­maker

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