World film festival opens in Pakistan: 95pc Indians are secular: Om Puri
By Tanveer Sher
KARACHI: Internationally-acclaimed Indian film artiste Om Puri claimed here on Friday that more than 95 percent people of India were secular-minded and they proved this when they voted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power in the recent general elections.
Mr Puri, who has been described as “the finest India actor of the post-independence generation” by an Indian film critic, was replying to questions from the audience after screening of one of his movies, Dhoop, on the opening day of the10-day-long 4th Kara Film Festival, Karachi International Film Festival 2004, here in the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.
One hundred movies including 28 feature, 35 documentary and 40 short films, will be screened. Eminent personalities from the film world of Pakistan, India, the UK and the US are participating in the international film festival.
On the first day, three movies starring Om Puri, including Maqbool and Dhoop, were screened. A large number of fans of the prominent actor of art and commercial movies watched the films. Om Puri, who has acted in more than 140 films so far, said the BJP committed a blunder by not dismissing its Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who allegedly masterminded the massacre of a large number of innocent Muslims in early 2002.
“The people of India clearly rejected the communal approach of the BJP and they voted the Indian National Congress into power. The people of Pakistan should take into account the 95 percent secular-minded people of India, instead of a handful five percent extremists,” he emphasised.
With his memorable performances in such films as “My Son the Frantic” and “East is East,” Puri has also earned increasing recognition among the Western audience, further establishing himself as an actor of great range and versatility.
He blamed politicians on both sides of the divide for creating dispute and acrimony between the nuclear-armed neighbours. “But the gulf created by their (rulers) short-sighted policies is being bridged by artistes,” he said.
Replying to a question about his role in Dhoop which depicts the story of a college teacher whose son was killed in the Kargil war and in his name a piece of land for the setting up of a petrol pump was given by the government, but he had to face problems at every step in acquiring a no-objection certificate. The Indian artiste, who uses his voice and facial expressions as his main assets in films, said this was a true story and reflected a real life experience.
“Parents, whether Indian or Pakistani, who lost their sons in the Kargil war, had to endure similar agony and miseries. War brought sufferings on both sides of the divide,” he said.
He said he was overwhelmed with the love and affection he received in Pakistan. “This warmth and love of the people has overwhelmed me. It is great to see everyone, including taxi drivers, policemen and the common people, recognise this man (Om Puri) and respect him,” he said.
“The warmth expressed by the people of Karachi since my landing in the city will remain a source of inspiration for me for the rest of my life,” he said.
Talking about movies produced in the Fifties and Sixties in Bollywood, he said this period was the golden age of the Indian cinema when great directors and actors such as Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, V Shanta Ram, Mehboob and others ruled the industry and gave classics of the Indian cinema.
He said with the passage of time people developed a business-minded approach and they infiltrated the cinema industry, which resulted in steep decline in the standard of movies.