A leading Pakistani actress, who makes her Bollywood debut this week, wants Islamabad to lift a 40-year ban on Hindi language films to give a boost to warming ties between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.
Meera, who has starred in more than 30 Urdu language films, told Reuters on Wednesday she could work in Bollywood only because of the improved diplomatic relations between the two countries in the past one year.more
“Film is the best media to improve relations between India and Pakistan. I only hope and pray current efforts to get the ban lifted succeeds,” Meera said in an interview.
But she faces a daunting task after her family in Pakistan received death threats from Islamic groups on media reports she had done a kissing scene in Nazar , produced by Bollywood’s Mahesh Bhatt.
“Bhatt was the first person to take steps to improve cooperation between India and Pakistan in films. Hopefully he will be the first to release a movie there,” she said.
Meera said all “negative impressions” about the movie, in which she plays a blind woman who acquires a bizarre ability to foresee murders in a red light area after an eye transplant, would be cleared when people get to see the film.
“It’s a good film and will do well,” she said. “I can’t wait to know how people will receive it.”
Indian films are hugely popular in Pakistan, and a flourishing bootleg DVD industry and satellite television mean Pakistanis can now watch Bollywood movies at home.
India and Pakistan have made tangible progress since they began a peace process early last year, easing visa regulations for the young and elderly and starting a historic bus service for more people-to-people contacts.
Though the core dispute over Kashmir, the divided Himalayan region that has been the cause of two of the three wars between India and Pakistan, is still to be resolved, cultural and sport ties have improved.
Earlier this month, Pakistan agreed “in principle” to screen or “GlanceMughal-e-Azam, one of the great classics of Indian cinema.
Meera, who says she was never made to feel she came from “an enemy country”, plans to act in more Indian movies and has signed up for another film with Bhatt.
“People showered me with loads of flowers and garlands where ever I went to promote the film. This only shows how much people here love me.”
“I’m half Indian now, but I have no intention to settle down here,” she said.