Pakistani stars desert Lollywood for Bollywood
There's a rather unexpected fallout of the India-Pakistan peace process: film stars are deserting Lollywood for better pastures in Bollywood.
The lack of good quality productions and the slump in local cinema have led Pakistani movie stars to India, "where they are tripping over each other" to sign up for Bollywood ventures, according to the Daily Times.
"These actors and actresses like to highlight that their performances across the border give a boost to India-Pakistan relations," the newspaper said Saturday.
"However, while the top talent enjoys the more professional, and lucrative, experience of working in India, less glamorous film industry professionals are running out of work."
Ironically, Indian movies are still banned here.
"Cinema can bridge the gap between Pakistan and India," said actress Meera, a Pakistani.
"I would like to dedicate my performance in 'Nazar Kay Samnay' (a film she is currently working on in India) to good relations between India and Pakistan."
Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt has also signed Meera for his upcoming British-Indian production. She also says she is independently producing a film in India - with a budget of Rs.60 million - that will be directed by Karan Johar.
The problem with the local film industry, according to several film stars, is that it lacks professionals and skilled technical people as well as equipment. Meera pointedly praised Bollywood as very professional.
According to sources in the film industry, actresses Laila and Nirma are constantly in touch with friends in Mumbai searching for roles in Indian movies.
Sana and Javed Sheikh have signed "Paak", a movie about India-Pakistan relations. Javed Sheikh is in Mumbai for the shooting of the film "Das". He has also signed Kareena Kapoor for his film "Khulay Asman Kay Nichay".
Veena Malik, another Pakistani actress, has performed in the Indian film "Pind Di Kudi", a remake of the Pakistani film "Bau Jee". The film is to be released in India soon.
Actor Moamar Rana's first movie "Dobarra" was released in India Friday. He stars alongside Mahima Chaudhary, and apparently those two are to appear in another Indian movie soon.
Moamar's work in India has delayed the Geo TV serial "Muhabat Ka Sahar", which is also a Pakistan-India project. The director is Indian Ravi Roy and it includes an Indian and Pakistani cast. The serial will now begin shooting in Switzerland in October.
Actress Samina Peerzada wants the South Asian Association for Regional Corporation (SAARC) to create a film secretariat to push regional cinema.
Heavyweights from across the border agree.
Indians Nandita Das, Raj Babbar, Mahesh Bhatt and Pooja Bhatt have all voiced support for co-productions during visits to Pakistan.
Earlier this year, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry invited a delegation of film producers and directors to Mumbai by for the Global Entertainment Convention (March 15-17). The delegates described their visit as a roaring success.
They met Indian film icons such as Yash Chopra and Dharmendra. They discussed a number of possible co-productions, and had discussions on film rights.
"But with all the top Pakistani talent going across the border for work, most of them claiming to be doing it for peace, the local film industry shrinks further into obscurity. Local studios are empty, with even most big Pakistani projects preferring to shoot abroad," Daily Times said.
"The lower paid film industry professionals are suffering. Light men, make-up artists, laboratory technicians, cameramen and extras have less work," Daily Times said.