Sunday, Dec 14, 2003
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But this was a city in neighbouring Pakistan where the shooting of a music video was in progress. And the star attraction was Urmila Matondkar, the Bollywood actress who received rave reviews for her performance in Chandra Prakash Dwivedi's Pinjar, a major part of which was shot in Pakistan.
Urmila was in Lahore to shoot for Moving Closer, a music video for the Pakistani band, Fuzon, being produced by Serendip Productions and funded by the United Nations Development Programme. Her three-day visit was the focus of unprecedented media attention, comparable only to the mega-coverage witnessed during the India-Pakistan summit in Agra two years ago, according to newspaper reports.
"Between filming for a documentary series, Moving Closer, and the frenzied adulation of moviegoers, Matondkar's hosts found time to organise a press meet in a local hotel," the Dawn reported.
The daily said:
"The press conference turned out to be a media jamboree, as many were interested only in flashing cameras and catching a glimpse of Bollywood's petite diva.
``The entire purpose of the press conference, which was to highlight the cooperation between India and Pakistan through media relations, was challenged by the unruliness of the local press.
"The last time such a large number of photographers and reporters had assembled was at the Musharraf-Vajpayee summit in Agra in 2000."
"It seemed everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the Indian beauty. She was hard to miss in her flower-studded pink salwar kameez with matching dupatta. Several locals stood on their rooftops watching the video shoot of the documentary-cum-music video, being held at the rooftop of Cuckoo's Café," the Daily Times reported.
Urmila, too, basked in the warm `Lahori' reception. "I have been all over the world but the reception I have got here in Lahore is something else," she told the newspaper.
"I have heard a lot about Lahore and its rich cultural heritage. The city really lives up to its reputation."
Expressing delight over "finally being in Lahore", a city she had wanted to see for a long time, Urmila said: "It was a great feeling to cross the border. When I got to Wagah, I was so happy. It's a feeling I can't really put into words." She said she had come to the city with a message of peace, one warmly received by the Lahoris. It was time for more interactions between Indians and Pakistanis, particularly in the arts, with exchanges of actors and musicians.
She hoped to attend a Pakistan-India peace forum in Karachi, but had not received her visa for Karachi yet. Urmila's visit, coinciding with Mahesh Bhatt's Zakhm and Pooja Bhatt's Paap being invited to participate in the three-day Karachi Film Festival from December 13, can be seen as another step in the direction of greater cultural contacts between the two countries.
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