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Amid Indo-Pak tensions, Shyam Benegal to cast Fawad Khan in cross-border film

Mahesh Bhatt is the creative advisor for a film that will be directed by Harsh Narayan.

Mayur Lookhar

While right wing thinkers will not be amused, the custodians of peace will welcome this initiative with open arms. Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal is keen on producing a cross-border film with Pakistani artist Fawad Khan in the lead. Interestingly, Mahesh Bhatt is the creative advisor for the project.

The film titled, Yeh Raste Hain Pyar Ke, and is to be directed by unheralded filmmaker Harsh Narayan. The latter has always strived to strengthen Indo-Pakistani relations through cultural exchanges.

Strangely, despite the simmering political tensions between the two countries, Narayan reckoned this is a good time to boost Indo-Pak relations. 

"I believe there couldn’t be a better time to put out a film that explores love and peace and promotes humanity," Narayan told a tabloid, noting that Saadat Hasan Manto wrote his best work, including Toba Tek Singh, during the Partition. While speaking to the same tabloid, Benegal said, “People called me mad when I was making Ankur! I have found another mad, creative filmmaker in Harsh. He is capable, hard-working and can take on all the creative responsibilities necessary for making this film," Narayan told a tabloid.

Khan is said to have read the script much before the breakdown in relations of India and Pakistan following the Uri terror attack and Indian surgical strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This project had the blessings of former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

"Respected Pakistanis and Indians who have known Narayan over the years and have seen him work relentlessly speak highly of his endeavours. I feel this film will help reduce friction between the two nations," Kasuri was quoted as saying. 

Pakistani artistes have been facing the ire of right wing thinkers with certain political outfits in Maharashtra threatening to stall the release of Indian films which have Pakistani actors in it. With less than three weeks remaining for its release, filmmaker Karan Johar was forced to replace the face of Fawad Khan in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil with that of Saif Ali Khan.