Home / Industry / Percept hopes to push cross-border cultural exchange with a film

Mumbai: As the audience in India welcomes the first Pakistani film to be released in this country in more than 40 years, an Indian production house hopes to make collaborative offerings staple fare on the silver screens of both countries.

An Indian couple take a look at the poster of the Pakistani film Khuda Kay Liye (In The Name Of God) at a cinema hall in New Delhi, 4 April, 2008. AFP Photo/Raveendran

Percept Picture Co. is negotiating a deal with Shoaib Mansoor, the Pakistani director, producer and writer behind Khuda Ke Liye, which will be released in India this weekend, to make a movie starring both Indian and Pakistani actors for simultaneous release in both countries. “We are looking to extend our relationship with Shoaib Mansoor," said Shailendra Singh, joint managing director of Percept.

Mansoor, who is already working on the script of another movie, would include a mixed cast of Indian and Pakistani actors in the “mainstream" film to be produced by Percept. He declined to provide further details on the storyline, or names considered for the key roles.

Khuda Ke Liya, starring Naseeruddin Shah, tells the story of two Pakistani Muslim brothers seeking to preserve their identities in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US. One travels to the US, and is detained, while the other falls under the influence of extremists.

Singh said the film, which won the special jury award at the 31st Cairo International Film Festival in December, had been “hugely successful" in Pakistan, and had received a standing ovation at its premiere in Mumbai on Thursday.

The neighbouring countries had maintained a ban on each other’s film offerings since the 1965 war over Kashmir. But relations have thawed somewhat since the start of a peace process in 2004, prompting the release of an Indian film in Pakistan two years later.

Despite the ban, Indian cinema has a devoted following in Pakistan, where audiences consume Bollywood movies via illegal copies of DVDs and private cable television channels. Taare Zameen Par (2007) has been granted special permission for a release in Pakistan later this month.

Singh said Percept had considered two other Pakistani movies before settling on Khuda Ke Liye for release in India, in a move he believes could open up the Indian market to Pakistani movies. “This is the first time in 43 years that a Pakistani film is opening in Indian cinemas," he said. “We followed all the usual procedures to get it approved by the censor board in Delhi and we had no problems."

“I think this will be the first of a wave," added Singh. “Pakistan is rich in arts and culture and this entry could open up the floodgates of cinema."

“It is a mainstream story and not a social commentary," he added. “The message this film carries is that religion is to be enjoyed and cherished in its real context and not be exploited for reasons beyond what it stands for."

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