Pakistani makes history as first Bollywoo

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Posted: 16 years ago
Pakistani makes history as first Bollywood director
Mar 10, 2006

The first Indian film to be directed by a Pakistani goes into production this month in a sign of the growing thaw between the South Asian rivals. Actor-turned-director Omar Sharif will shoot a comedy "Tum Mere Ho" (You Are Mine) to make history -- but the film has nothing to do with the near 60-year rivalry between the two nations, according to US-based producer Masood Ali.

"We want to build a bridge of friendship between the two countries. This is the kind of initiative we are trying to take," he said.

Actors have moved between the two countries but the movie marks the first time a Pakistani director will direct a Bollywood film with an all-Indian cast.

The film, featuring Bollywood great Rajesh Khanna, will be shot in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad and Chicago but Ali said there was little chance of the film being released in Pakistan.

"As far as I know, Bollywood films are barred from releasing in Pakistan so I don't know whether this film would have a chance to get released in Pakistan," he said.

The Pakistan government banned all Indian films after the neighbouring countries fought a war over Kashmir in 1965, but Bollywood films have long had a massive audience in Pakistan on pirated DVDs and via cable channels.

Sharif, a dramatist, also has a loyal following among the Indian middle-classes for his plays.

India and Pakistan are engaged in a slow-moving peace process over disputed Kashmir but deep suspicions remain.

Until the last two years, Bollywood film makers have raked in money at the box office by portraying Pakistan as an enemy country.

But things changed as the peace process picked up. The biggest hit of 2004 was "Main Hoon Na" (I Am There) starring Shah Rukh Khan, a Muslim actor who played a Hindu military officer promoting peace. That movie made 300 million rupees (6.8 million US) at the box office.

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