Friday, February 15, 2008

Bollywood films, a niche in Pakistan

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During the India-Pakistan war in 1965, Indian films were banned in Pakistan.

In the midst of this love-hate relationship between the two countries Indian cinema, which was shunned by the Islamic hardliners and banned by the government, was loved and avidly watched in private.

The following was so steady and loyal that it created a parellel flourishing in the underground market for film DVDs. A world where passions had to be kept concealed.

Mughal-e-Azam, which was released in colour in 2006 was the first among three Indian films to hit Pakistani theatres.

Seen by an earlier generation in better times (1960), the film had evoked tremendous response.

Reportedly its prints were paraded on elephant back in Lahore, the city where the lovers Prince Salim and Anarkali are buried.

Four decades later, the coloured version may not have brought the elephants out, but it did manage bring in the audiences.

Mehvish Mateen, a student said, "I would love to see Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. It's a great film and Mughal-e-Azam. I love Madhubala. She is my favorite heroine and I would love to watch her everyday.''

Second in line was Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal, also a period film based on the love story of a Mughal emperor.

Aggressively promoted across the border, the film was also boosted by the presence of a Pakistani film actress, Sonya Jehan in the lead role.

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