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'I feel so close to the people of Pakistan'

Subhash K Jha | September 06, 2003 14:43 IST

Urmila in PinjarUrmila Matondkar left for Wagah at the India-Pakistan border on Friday morning. Before she left, she explained why there is a need for celebrities to extend the hand of friendship towards our neighbouring nation.

Officially, we are going to the Wagah border area for the release of the music soundtrack of Pinjar [her forthcoming film]. For me, this trip means a lot more.

I will first try to visit a shelter for homeless women in Jalandhar. Women there have gone through many of the experiences that my character goes through in Pinjar.

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Indian history hasn't really recorded the pain and suffering of the women who were used as pawns in the vendetta game during Partition. Abduction and rape were only the beginning of these women's trauma. Many such women were impregnated and had nowhere to go. Some were lucky to find homes. 

My character in Pinjar goes through the harrowing experience of being abducted during Partition. When she escapes and manages to return to her family, they reject her.

I have been reading a lot on the plight of women abducted during Partition. I am also reading a collection of stories based on Partition.

When I first read Pinjar's script, I thought the issue of social stigmas against women 60 years ago is just as relevant today. Women still have to constantly prove their innocence and assert their right to dignity in our patriarchal society.

I can't tell you how moved I am. I don't think any film has or will make as much difference to me as a human being, actress and a woman as Pinjar has done.

We actors in Bollywood exist in a cocoon that is far removed from real world. Pinjar awakened me to the reality that most women face. We just have to step out of Mumbai or step out of our cars to see how women at the grassroots live.

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I don't want to exaggerate. But I am leaving on a mission that will change my life. I am very nervous, excited and apprehensive about this visit to Wagah.

I will reach Amritsar in the evening [September 5]. From there we visit the Golden Temple and then leave for Wagah. We will release the music of Pinjar there. We will also distribute the film's music on the other side of the border.

My visit is not political in the least. But I think it will make a difference, no matter how small.

I feel very strongly about Indo-Pak relationships. It is time for all artistes to extend the hand of friendship. All of us in the Pinjar team are going to Wagah with a great deal of positivity.

I hope Pinjar will break the impasse regarding the release of Hindi films in Pakistan. Bollywood stars have such a huge fan following there. Our films are seen on pirated CDs. So why not make Hindi films legitimate in Pakistan? And why not start with Pinjar? It looks dispassionately at people on both sides of the border. Cruelty and suffering has neither border nor religion. That's what Pinjar has shown.

Unfortunately a great deal of patriotic Hindi cinema in recent times has become anti-Pakistan. It shouldn't be so.

When I read the script, I had so many questions and ideas to offer my director Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi. I felt a need within me to understand what happened at that crossroad in history.

Today, I feel so close to people in Pakistan. I think cinema can really play a huge hand in the peace process.

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