June / July  2005




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Sunaina Anand

Meera - "I love India. People here have showered me with love and respect. What more could I ask for."

The first Pakistani actress to have bridged both geographical and emotional divides in ten years, Meera is extremely excited about Nazar, the first joint production between Bollywood and Lollywood. She feels the film will help take the peace process between the two nations a step ahead…

She claims to have single handedly attempted to bridge the gap between two traditionally hostile nations. And though her attempt has been shrouded in controversy, Pakistani actress Meera’s excitement is infectious as she talks animatedly about Mahesh Bhatt’s Nazar in which she has a pivotal role.

Meera who has acted in over seventy films in Pakistan met Mahesh Bhatt at the Kara Film Festival in Karachi. The Indian filmmaker says he was immediately struck by her stunning looks and, he adds as an afterthought, her acting acumen. Few in India know that Meera is a multiple best actress award winner in Pakistan and has been acting since she was 14.

Meera says she has had a long desire to act in Indian films. She approached the celebrated producer and director and expressed her will to work in Bollywood. Some weeks later when Mahesh Bhatt met her next, he had a story ready. "It was a female-oriented subject. I instantly fell in love with the plot of Nazar and the role I was offered. I said yes on the spot," gushes Meera.

A paranormal thriller, Nazar revolves around a telepathic girl Divya (Meera) who can detect a murder before it’s been committed. The film cashes in on the current hot topic of Mumbai bar girls who are shown in the film as victims of a serial killer’s violence. Divya teams up with a cop (Ashmit Patel) who is investigating the case to help nab the killer.

Locking Lips

However even before its release the film kicked up a huge storm. Passions have been aroused about a lingering kiss between Meera and Ashmit Patel. Such has been the hullabaloo that the Pakistani star has been allegedly getting death threats for locking lips in a Hindi film.

She has reportedly been threatened by some Islamic fundamentalist groups who say that her action goes against Islamic ethics and moral values. Rumour also has it that the Pakistani government has imposed a fine on her and is also considering a ban on Pakistani actors signing Bollywood films.

"The controversy was not very unexpected as the Censor Board in Pakistan frowns upon kissing on the screen. However it has been blown out of proportion. These scenes are part of any modern day romantic film and there is simply nothing objectionable about them," says a rattled Meera.

The actress along with producers Mahesh Bhatt and Sohail Khan (brother of Hindi film star Salman Khan) are of the opinion that no nation would go so far as prosecute an actress for a kissing scene. They feel that this is the work of extremist elements looking for issues to derail the peace progress between the two nations.

The first Pakistani actress to have bridged both geographical and emotional divides after Zeba Bhaktiyar’s stint in Raj Kapoor’s Henna in 1991, Meera is extremely excited about Nazar. "It’s the first joint production between Bollywood and Lollywood in over half a century and will help take the peace process between the two nations many steps ahead. I hope it heralds the start of a long affair between the two film industries," says she.

However, the kissing controversy seems to have dampened spirits at least in Pakistan where the film faces a somewhat uncertain future. While films like Mughal e Azam are being aired in the country, Nazar is not going to be given the same treatment. The release of the film has been halted by the Government because of the ‘immoral scenes.’

"It’s sad really that in today’s day and age these meaningless issues are cropping up. I intend to put in a request to President General Musharraf to allow Nazar to be released in Pakistan," says the actress.

She claims she is a goodwill ambassador between India and Pakistan "I love India. People here have showered me with love and respect. What more could I ask for. I intend to visit the country as often as I can," says she.

And true to her word, she has already signed two more films in India – another Mahesh Bhatt project titled Holiday in which she plays a Pakistani girl and Lal Haveli based around the partition in which she plays a Muslim dancing girl living in Rawalpindi who falls in love with a Hindu lawyer.

Indeed Meera hopes that her sensational debut in Bollywood will encourage other collaborations. She says Nazar is an effort in that direction. "It’s all about friendship and love." And, of course, a few kisses!!





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