Visiting Pakistan was like a pilgrimage: Kiron Kher

7/21/2004 12:00:00 AM
Actress Kiron Kher, whose role in "Khamosh Pani" has garnered her rave reviews, says shooting the film in Pakistan was akin to a pilgrimage that allowed her to revisit her roots.

Set in the Pakistan of 1979, "Khamosh Pani", directed by Sabiha Sumar, explores the relationship between a mother and her teenage son in a tiny village as they grapple with the realities of Islamic extremism and the mundane struggles of daily life

"In Pakistan I was revisiting my roots all over again. It was like a pilgrimage for me," said Kher, whose mother hailed from Pakistan.

"I was completely bowled over by Pakistan," she said.

"I visited a very old friend of my mother's when I was there. I had only known her through letters. She was dying and I was happy that I could see her at least once before she died."

Winner of 13 international awards, the Pakistani film will be showcased Wednesday at the sixth Asian cinema festival at India Habitat Centre here. The 10-day festival began July 16.

"In Karachi, the buses were like colourful gypsy buses. Islamabad is just like our Chandigarh. And the markets there, they were all so beautiful," Kher told a news conference Tuesday, flashing her dimple as press photographers around her clicked away.

"Punjab is Punjab, whether in India or in Pakistan," she said.

Kher plays Ayesha, a Pakistani woman thrown into a dilemma when a group of Sikh pilgrims who arrive from India begin a hunt for a girl who was abducted during the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, stirring agonising memories in her.

"Maybe it was my Sikh background that helped me associate with the role," said Kher, who won three international awards for her role -- at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, the Kara Film Festival in Karachi and Ciepie in Argentina.

"I could understand the role so well. Ayesha is like the kind of women I used to see in my father's village -- their faces, their open laughter and their hearts filled with lots and lots of love," she said, looking chic in an all-black salwar kameez.

Wife of popular film actor Anupam Kher, Kher has already won many an accolade, including the national award for the film "Bariwali" by Rituparno Ghosh.

Director Sabiha Sumer said: "I had seen Kiron's performances before. Also the response that she showed when I narrated the film to her convinced me that she was the right person for the role.

"I had conceptualised all my characters when I wrote the script itself. For the role of Ayesha, I wanted an actor who would identify the depth in the movie," she said.

"Everyone loved her in Karachi. The (Kara Film Festival) award should show the level of appreciation there."

Kiron Kher, who has now finished work in the Aamir Khan starrer "The Rising", will soon be going to the US to appear in "ER", the popular TV series. She is also working on a Yash Chopra film that is still not named.

"Globalisation of films is very important. It opens up the markets for the film industry," said Kher.

"Movies like this ('Khamosh Pani') are the need of the hour. It is the responsibility of every person to be a part of it if you can."