If one were to look back, then the upcoming film Total Siyapaa (which I am part of) with its Indo-Pak theme is not new as several films have been made on it in the past. But there is a difference. Most of these films had a serious touch to it, and were based on issues like the line of control (LOC) tension, partition, Kargil war among others highlighted in them. But at the end of it, we must realise that both these countries were born out of a single country. There is a lot of love and warmth between several people from both the sides of the border.
The bitterness only arises due to cross border terrorism and the topic of Kashmir, which they have been asking for. For us as a nation, Kashmir is not easy to just give away because major rivers flow from this state, which provides water to a host of other states in the country. But otherwise, it has not always been about the competitiveness and violence that we get to see in most films. If you see some films like Tere Bin Laden, War Chhod Naa Yaar and our Total Siyapaa, it is the element of humour that makes it different. I have always believed and wished that we, as two countries, could learn to laugh at ourselves more often. If you take everything that comes your way so seriously, then there will only be conflicts. In fact, if politicians of the two countries learn to laugh at themselves over a cup of tea, it could be even better (laughs).
Light-hearted films are only an extension of things that go on between them, and is a reflection of today’s reality. Just like the films on the Indo-Pak was a reflection of the reality then — of the bitterness that ensued because of fundamental problems, cross border terrorism among others. That is one reason why it later extended to every other part of life, including films and even cricket. In fact, even the films which have pitted the two countries through the medium of cricket, was nothing less than a war. Now that is taken from real life as it was a real phenomenon, because whenever the two countries play against each other, baaki saare matches boring lagte the. More than competition, it is like a raging war.
Speaking from my personal experience, the aam junta in both the countries are extremely sweet and share a wonderful relationship. My mother, Daljit Kaur, was originally from West Pakistan and I am a Jat Sikh, so in a way, main toh aadhi Pakistan se hi aati hoon na. My mother had spent her early years that side and it was only post Partition that she had to come to India here. Like most people, the family had to leave all their land and was allotted a space in India. She had several friends in Pakistan, whom she had kept in touch with. During the filming of Khamosh Pani, I even got a chance to meet them. I never felt that I was interacting with people from some other country. Aaj bhi logon ki rishtedaari hain aur bas log chehre dekhne ko tadap jaate hain because they don’t get a visa.
Total Siyapaa is a gem of a little comedy that has the same warmth and explores the adorable madness that ensues when the two families (that of an Indian girl and a Pakistani boy) meet one night. The fact that film-makers today are making light-hearted films with the India vs Pakistan topic shows that one can be irreverent about things. It also proves that the nation is growing and maturing with time.
As an actor and someone who has seen both the sides of this story, I can only feel happy about this progress.
As told to Priya Adivarekar