To say you like anything or anyone from across the border is now seditious. This, Kannada actress Ramya realized when she committed the cardinal error of saying not all Pakistan is “hell”
Gentle softspoken Mudassar Aziz’s Happy Bhaag Jayegi is a boxoffice success in India although it has shown Pakistanis as nice decent warm hospitable people.
“It s unfortunate that Ramya is being slammed with a sedition charge for merely stating a truth. Can one be considered anti-national for saying our neighbour is not a bad sort?Choti mooh aur badi baat, but didn’t Modiji say the same about the Pakistani people when he had dropped in for lunch in Pakistan?This is how they are. How can we take away the average Pakistani’s right to be decent?” reasons Mudassar who has had a tough time surviving in Bollywood after his debut film Dulha Mil Gaya bombed in 2010.
“All the friends who had wooed me during Dulha Mil Gaya abandoned me after it flopped. I was baffled. I never wanted their friendship in the first place,” says Musaddar.
Aanand Rai came as godsent to Mudassar. “He had faith in me at a time when my friends had turned away from me. And at a time when Paki-bashing was its peak he let me make a film where Pakistanis were not shown as villains.”
Mudassar recalls his visit to Pakistan a few months ago. “I was standing in a queue of about 30 Pakistanis waiting to pay for some goods at a store in Karachi.When my turn came the person at the counter saw my Indian currency notes and said, ‘You’re from India?” I said yes, and felt a little uncomfortable in that crowd. To my surprise the person at the counter refused to accept money from me saying, ‘Aap ke mulk se aate hi kitnehain?’(hardly anyone comes here from your country. We have to stop looking at every Pakistani as an enemy . It was an image created by the films of J P Dutta and Anil Sharma.”
Mudassar actually wanted to shoot the film in Pakistan , and he did shoot portions of it in the country. “The problem for Indian crews to shoot in Pakistan is not so much of mutual hostility. It is more a practical than a political obstacle. You see, any foreign filmmaker who wants to shoot in Pakistan has to employ all the technicians from Pakistan. So there I was all ready to shoot Happy Bhaag Jayegi with a 40-member Indian crew when I was asked to replace the crew with Pakistanis. Every filmmaker is comfortable with a particular team. I chose to shoot in India for the indoor sequences in Pakistan. But I did get the outdoor shots of Lahore in my film, thanks to (actor) Jawed Shaikh Saab whose production company took charge of shooting in Lahore for us.”
This makes Happy Bhaag Jayegi the only Indian film in living memory to be actually shot in Pakistan.
Says Mudassar, “I think one shot of the Indian embassy in Karachi in Raj Kapoor Saab’s Henna was filmed across the border. Otherwise, yes. Happy Bhaag Jayegi is the first Indian film to be actually shot in Pakistan. I am very happy for that. It’s a film about the positive side of Indo-Pak ties. The film would have been incomplete if it hadn’t been shot there.I am so happy that the film’s message of positivity is being accepted.”