In a tiny room at the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in Karachi, Indian filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt was ready to tell all.
Mahesh Bhatt is in town with his daughter, Pooja Bhatt, who herself is an actor and producer, in order to stage an adaptation of his film Daddy at NAPA's International Theatre Festival. The play "Daddy" is showing at the festival today.
Civil societies play an important role in bringing both nations together: Mahesh Bhatt
Bhatt started out saying that he felt deeply regretful about times when the Indian government forces Pakistani artists to return home, giving in to political pressure.
|(L-R): Pooja Bhatt, Mahesh Bhatt, Arshad Mehmood and Zain Ahmed.— Photo by Zoya Anwer|
A few weeks ago it was unclear whether Bhatt and his daughter would make it to Pakistan due to visa delays.
“These things happen at both ends but civil society plays its role here and it too forces the authorities to look over their decision concerning the exchange of talent and it has improved considerably," Bhatt said.
"Earlier in 2003, during Kara Film Festival, we hadn’t even thought that it would be possible to screen our films here in Pakistan but it happened and now almost 12 years later I can say that yes we have come really far.”
Talking about progress made in terms of an exchange of talent between India and Pakistan, Bhatt senior cited the example of Zee Zindagi, an Indian channel that shows Pakistani dramas. It was during this Pooja Bhatt piped in:
“My mother watches it all the time and she knows more about your actors than ours; she knows who Fawad (Khan) is.”
|"If books can be made into films then why can't films be converted into theatre performances?," he asked.— Photo by Zoya Anwer|
“When Fawad Khan won the Filmfare it showed that the public endorsed him. Each step taken is truly commendable, bus silsila chalta rehna chahye,” said Mahesh.
Mahesh said that be it television, film, theatre or fashion, he would support any activity that brings both nations closer.
"It is not just films, last year at Aalishaan Pakistan when fashion designers from Pakistan visited India, I supported that as well. I will promote any cultural activity between Pakistan and India," he said.
It pains me when we can't shoot films in Karachi, Lahore: Mahesh Bhatt
Touching upon the subject of shooting films in Karachi and Lahore, Bhatt said that it pains him when filmmakers choose to shoot scenes in Sri Lanka, Bangkok or London.
"It is painful but filmmakers have psychological fears owing to the law and order situation here but this step will greatly benefit both nations."
|Mahesh Bhatt would like to make films in Pakistan.— Photo by Zoya Anwer|
He also praised previous films like Waar, Khuda Ke Liye and Bol and said that Indian filmmakers have start viewing Pakistani films differently. He also added that he wasn’t sure if Jalaibee would make it to India.
Atif stands parallel to Arjeet Singh
Talking about the Pakistani music scene, he said that Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan have indeed taken the industry by storm.
“Atif Aslam roams in India just like any other artist of ours and he stands alongside the contemporary singer Arjeet Singh so it’s not solely as if all artists are mistreated. That would be an exaggeration,” Bhatt said.
He also said that Pakistan has a lot of talent and lauded Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy for bringing home an Oscar in 2012.
"I wear black because it’s a hassle to dress up."—Mahesh Bhatt
Jab dil saaf ho tou kaala pehnte hain (Pooja Bhatt)
Like daughter like father
With Bhatt's other daughter Alia set to make her musical debut soon, it appears that Mahesh will also dabble in music, featuring in the title track of Mr. X, a scientific thriller about an invisible man starring Imran Hashmi.
“I haven’t sung the song, rather have sung some lyrics in it,” said Bhatt.
Theatre is not my space: Mahesh Bhatt
Bhatt also clarified that theatre was not his forte but given that it was Imran Zahid’s idea to make his film Daddy into a play he supported it.
“Even in this event, I requested the organisers to call other troupes as well because coming alone wasn’t not very feasible and hats off to the government’s processes for they cooperated and made this celebration of theatre possible,” he said.
|Mahesh Bhatt smiles at a question.— Photo by Zoya Anwer|
"If books can be made into films then why can't films be converted into theatre performances?," he asked.
Answering a query about the play "Milne Do" by Danish Iqbal, Bhatt said that the play will see collaborations from both countries but he wasn't sure about its status.
I will soon be seen acting: Pooja Bhatt
Although the floor was held by Mahesh Bhatt, when asked about her upcoming projects, Pooja Bhatt responded that two of her films will be coming soon namely Cabaret and Love Affair.
The actor, who starred with Aamir Khan in Dil Hai K Manta Nahi, was quick to comment on her former co-star that it was his 'moralistic' ways that irked her:
"I find his moral posturing offensive," she said.
Ending on a quick note, Mahesh Bhatt stressed that media plays a vital role here and should highlight the positive aspects of things and aggravating bitterness will only widen the already existing distance.