Even as tension escalated between India and Pakistan Madhur Bhandrakar, accompanied by Om Puri, drove off to Lahore to be honoured in Pakistan for his contribution to Indian cinema. Says Madhur, “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.”
Besides the honour came from the highest cultural section of Pakistan.
Says Madhur, “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.”
Ironically Madhur’s latest film Calendar Girls was banned in Pakistan.
Says Madhur, “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 was given to Madhur by veteran Pakistani actress Zeba Ali. Says Madhur fondly, “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.”
Madhur went to Lahore through the Wagah border. “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.”