Filmmaker-scriptwriter Mahesh Bhatt considers himself India’s “ambassador” for the Kara film festival in Pakistan.
However, for one who has, of late, come to be associated with many a joint Indo-Pak film venture (the first of which is scheduled for release in March this year), Mahesh Bhatt does not seem overtly optimistic about the possibility of the formal opening up flow of films between India and Pakistan, a natural corollary of the ”much sought after” people-to-people exchanges between the two neighboring countries.
“There is a wall of distrust that hinders the process of greater exchange of films between the two countries for theatrical release,” Bhatt told a news agency in an interview in New Delhi.
“Chances of theatrical release of Indian films in Pakistan in the near future are specially bleak due to the fear of the indigenous film industry that allowing Bollywood films there would spell their destruction, given the high popularity of Indian films and film stars in the neighboring country,” Bhatt said.
In this context, Bhatt, here in connection with his daughter Pooja Bhatt ‘s second production venture Rog , said: “unfortunately, for most of the filmmakers, a theatrical release in Pakistan is only about earning crores at the box office at the cost of the local films. The right approach in this regard should be not to view the entry of Indian films in Pakistan with an expansionist mindset.”
As for himself, Bhatt said his increasing collaboration with Pakistani filmmakers and using talent from their film industry for his films was borne out of his love for the people of that country.
In fact, Mahesh Bhatt was the first filmmaker to have two of his production ventures, Paap and ‘Rog’ premiered at the Kara film festival at Karachi. While ‘Paap’, directed by Pooja Bhatt and produced by her Fish Eye network, was screened at the Kara film festival in 2003, ‘Rog’ was screened at the 2004 edition of the festival last month.
‘Rog’ was screened to an ”overwhelming response”, Bhatt said.
“The encouraging response to the film can be gauged from the fact that despite the objections of the Pakistan Censor Board to screening of Indian films at the festival, the festival organisers stood their ground and went ahead with the screening.”