India to fete Pakistani movies

Culture minister offers to host Mumbai festival

HONG KONG — Only days after a Bollywood movie was screened in Pakistan for the first time in over 40 years, an Indian culture minister has offered to host a festival of Pakistani films in India.

Olive branch was extended Wednesday by Indian union minister for culture and tourism Ambika Soni on a visit to Lahore, Pakistan. Meeting also involved governor Chaudhry Muhammed Afzal Sahi, Pakistani federal culture secretary Syed Jalil Abbas and central film censor board chairman Ziauddin Ahmad.

Soni suggested that a festival be held in Mumbai and that movies from Pakistan’s Punjab region should be regularly screened in Indian Punjab.

There is a large two-way underground trade in each country’s movies. Bollywood pics are popular in Pakistan on DVD and pirate cable channels, while Pakistani films are coveted in several Indian states. But Pakistan only recently lifted its ban on legal exploitation of Indian films.

Indian helmer K. Asif’s 1960 epic “Mughal-e-Azam” unspooled in Lahore’s Gulistan Cinema last week, and Akbar Khan-helmed “Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story” (2005) opened in Karachi Friday (ed 28 April).

India and Pakistan have had a strained relationship since a bloody partition in 1947, when both countries won independence from the U.K. They have fought three wars over the disputed Kashmir state.

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