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When Onir wanted to work with Atif Aslam but couldn't afford trouble

The director feels it will be a "loss for both industries" if the gap between India and Pakistan is not bridged with exchange of talent.


National Award-winning director Onir says he wanted to work with Pakistani singing sensation Atif Aslam for Shab, but couldn't due to the cross-border tension.

Onir might have missed the chance to work with Aslam this time, but he says he will definitely work with him in the future.

The director feels it will be a "loss for both industries" if the gap between the two is not bridged with exchange of talent.

Atif Aslam

"I really wanted to (work with Atif Aslam). It would have been so amazing, just like a retreating therapy. But unfortunately at the point when we had to record, things were not great between (the neighbouring countries)... There were a lot of problems happening with films and ours being a small film I couldn't afford that kind of thing," Onir told IANS news agency over phone from Mumbai.

The entertainment industries on both sides of the border felt the after-effects following the Uri attack in India last year. A few Indian outfits imposed a ban on Pakistani artistes working in India and then some Pakistani theatres pulled down Indian movies.

Filmmaker Karan Johar had a hard time in releasing his Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.

Onir, who has helmed critically acclaimed movies like My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal and I Am, is not happy with the cross-border tension spilling into the entertainment world. But he says the situation is complex.

"I understood the sensitivity. I have a lot of friends in Pakistan and I have been to the country. I think it is a loss for both the industries if we don't exchange talent but the entire situation is complex. Both me and Atif discussed (about it). We will work together in future if we didn't do this."

As a tribute to his friendship with Aslam, Onir has got "one of his old songs 'Tere Bin' in the film" as a background score.

Atif recorded the 2006 hit song 'Tere Bin' for Onir's film Bas Ek Pal.

Shab features Raveena Tandon, Ashish Bisht and marks the debut of French actor Simon Frenay in Bollywood. The romance-drama is about dreams and relationships.

Talking about the film, Onir said: "The journey with Shab was very special. It started 17 years ago when I wrote the first draft of Shab. It has been a really long journey."

Set in Delhi, the film tells a story that revolves around the search for happiness and love of multiple characters. It will hit the screens on 30 June.