With all the negative publicity and flak that Meera has received in Pakistan thanks to her recent performance in Mahesh Bhatt’s Nazar and subsequent interviews to the Indian media, it is not surprising that the actress is now avoiding interviews like the plague. However, hurt and angry as she is, she agreed to give an exclusive to Imagesin which she confirmed that she had been fined by the government for her role in the film. The following are excerpts:
On her role in Nazar
I have done nothing to be ashamed of and can’t understand why my role has been politicized so much. The film hasn’t even been released and without seeing it people are passing judgments on my performance. Film is a medium of art and should be looked upon as such. I am an artist and artists have no boundaries – we should be allowed freedom of expression. As a professional actor, I have to do what the role demands and if I want to become an international star, I have to conform to international requirements. I have acted in 56 films to date and have done all kinds of roles – a mother’s, a wife’s, even that of Anarkali. What role can be more bold or rebellious than that of Anarkali? Boldness is not just being brazen with your body, you can be bold with your personality, too. I think what I have done in Nazar is nothing compared to Anarkali’s character. There is no reason to make it into a religious issue.
On the controversial scene
Other than one scene in which my character receives a peck on the neck by her lover after they declare their love for each other, the film is spotlessly clean. Did they want me to act in a burqa even if the role didn’t demand it?
On the Indian media’s response
I went to India as an ambassador of peace, and the media and people there showered me with respect and love. They gave me extensive front page coverage not because I was Meera, but because I was a Pakistani representing my country.
On the Pakistan government’s stance
So far they had been supportive and had offered to provide me with security. But then the federal government slapped a fine of rupees one crore for the so-called “kissing scene”. Will the fine get rid of the scene in the movie? I’m not taking any legal action yet, but I do plan to write to President Musharraf. On the one hand he is trying to project a liberal and more tolerant image of Pakistan, and on the other, the government’s reaction is so extreme. If they want to make Pakistan a truly Islamic state, they should go ahead and ban dancing, acting, alcohol, etc, instead of taking this hypocritical stance. I’ve done nothing in Nazar that hasn’t already been done by all the popular actors of the Indian screen, whom everyone watches with great enthusiasm in Pakistan. I’ve worked with an international team and represented my country globally, and Pakistanis should be proud of it.
On the local media’s reaction
I respect the views of the media and request that they look at my trip to India from the right perspective – as that of a professional. I have been getting calls threatening me not call a press conference or work for any more Indian films. Why are they reacting in such a negative way? I have done my work and returned to my country where I expect to be supported and encouraged. The awam has no issues with my performance, it’s the media that has a negative attitude. I can’t understand why a particular channel is blowing this whole thing out of proportion. I am representing my country abroad and working with one of India’s top directors. The objective of Mahesh Bhatt’s film is to strengthen relationships between the two countries and that should be appreciated.
I am not a political figure – my return from India became front page news as if I was some crooked politician. I am tired of this image bashing and don’t deserve it. I have decided that I am just going to sit and wait for Nazar to be released and then see what these channels, and the print media, have to say. I am confident my work will be appreciated.
On her future plans