I can never forget the days I spent in Pakistan:Madhur Bhandarkar

Writer and director Madhur Bhandarkar’s trajectory as a filmmaker has had its shares of ups and downs. Having produced some brilliant films like Chandni Bar and Traffic Signal in his long career, the filmmaker, accompanied by actor Om Puri, was recently in Lahore where he received an award from Rafi Peer for his contribution to cinema.Upon his return to India, Madhur Bhandarkar has expressed his joy at the treatment that met him on his recent visit to Pakistan. Despite warnings against visiting due to escalating tension between the two countries, the director had a successful trip. “I was advised by everyone close to me not to go. But I was adamant. Main kyon nahin jaaon? Art and cinema have no borders. Look at Bajrangi Bhaijaan, it is so popular in Pakistan,” said Madhur in a recent statement.Speaking about being honoured in Pakistan, Madhur commented, “I was given the Rafi Peer Memorial award, which is considered a big honour in Pakistan. They wanted to honour me for my hard-hitting subjects and for my contribution to women’s empowerment through my films.”

Though the filmmaker’s last film, Calendar Girls, was reportedly banned in Pakistan, he remains unfazed. “Yes unfortunately Calendar Girls was banned. But all my other films, though hard hitting and controversial, have been shown in Pakistan. In fact, Chandni Bar was screened when I received the award in Lahore on December 18.”The award, given by Pakistani actor Zeba Ali held immense value for the filmmaker. “She is like the Waheeda Rehmanji of Pakistan. If you remember Zebaji and her husband Mohammad Ali had acted in Manoj Kumar’s Clerk. I kept reminding her of scenes from that film.”The cross-border journey, fortunately, made for a fantastic experience for Madhur.  “It was an amazing experience. Once we were on the other side of the border, their hospitality took over. The people, the food and the culture was all so warm and welcoming. I had a memorable time for two days. They love Bollywood films so much in Pakistan.”

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