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Akshay dying to perform in Pakistan

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar is just waiting for an opportunity to perform in Pakistan.

He has gone on record to say he wouldn't mouth anti-Pakistan dialogues in films even if it meant letting go of plum assignments.

He was also set to be part of a Bollywood show in the Pakistani city of Lahore Feb 12 but the event was cancelled at the 11th hour. Now the concert has been rescheduled for March.

But Akshay won't be able to make it.

"Yes, Shilpa Shetty and me, along with several singers and musicians, were looking forward to performing in Lahore. Now I believe the concert will be March. But I'm already committed to shootings and won't be able to attend," Akshay told IANS in an exclusive interview.

"However, I look forward to performing for my Pakistani fans at the next given opportunity."

Besides Akshay, several major Bollywood stars are also expected to perform live in Pakistan shortly. "And why not?" he asks.

"It's about time the barriers between the countries were done away with completely. I firmly believe India and Pakistan have remained one at heart.

"Off and on, many of our artistes have gone to Pakistan and have been received with great warmth. Now I think the time has come for us from Bollywood to go there regularly. I sincerely think such an exercise would bring the two nations together."

Akshay, who's one of the busiest actors in Bollywood -- his latest release "Khakee" brought him a truckload of praise -- has a staunch fan following in Pakistan.

"There are people in our neighbouring nation who write regularly to tell me how much they enjoy our films. Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit and Kareena Kapoor are some of the stars who are closely monitored by the masses in Pakistan.

"I think it's time to screen new Indian films regularly in Pakistan. I've a feeling it's going to happen soon."

There have been several such gestures from Bollywood.

Urmila Matondkar has paid a visit to Pakistan as a peace ambassador, and so have Pooja Batra and Nandita Das.

Pooja Bhatt recently premiered her directorial debut "Paap" at the Karachi film festival. The Bhatts plan to make a film in collaboration with the Pakistani film industry.

Across the border, there are news reports of Pakistani projects featuring Indian actors. But Kareena Kapoor, who is mentioned among the stars slated to feature in Pakistani films, refutes such rumours.

"I'd love to do a film in Pakistan. My father (Randhir Kapoor) made a beautiful India-Pakistan love story 'Henna' in which he cast a Pakistani actress (Zeba Bakhtiar). My first film 'Refugee' was an Indo-Pak love story.

"But at the moment I've no plans of doing a film there."

After Chandraprakash Diwedi's "Pinjar", which focussed on the plight of women abducted during India's partition, another film, "Khamosh Pani", directed by a Delhi-based Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar, also brought to light the plight of a woman (played by Kiron Kher) torn between the two countries.

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