Pakistani celeb joins Indian pic

Rana's casting seen as another step in peace process

NEW DELHI — Bollywood director Shashi Ranjan has signed Pakistani superstar Muammar Rana to play in what will be the first cross-border movie in a decade.

Rana will play a character role in “Dobara” (Once Again), which will star Bollywood thesps Jackie Shroff, Raveena Tandon and Mahima Choudhury. The movie tracks an Indian couple whose lives are affected when they encounter a psychiatric patient.

“I am happy to say that we are the first people to sign up with a big Pakistani artist,” said Ranjan.

Ranjan said the warmth he had experienced from Pakistanis when he attended a cricket match last month in Lahore, during India’s first tour of Pakistan in almost 15 years, had prompted him to sign Rana for his film.

For Rana’s co-stars, the Pakistani’s billing in the movie is a step forward for the peace process between the two countries.

“Cricket has done its bit for the friendship and I feel Bollywood and art can also do the same,” said Choudhury.

“Dobara” could be the first Bollywood movie officially released in Pakistan, where there is a thriving trade in pirated Hindi-language movies. Each country bans screening of movies made by the other, but the ban is among a raft of issues to be discussed when officials from India and Pakistan hold talks next month on restoring full relations

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