May 19, 2005
When director Mahesh Bhatt says the actor of his Indo-Pak joint venture Nazar has been denied a Pakistani visa, you know it’s near the film’s release date. Bhatt says actor Ashmit Patel, who co-stars with Pakistani actress Meera in Nazar, due to be released on Friday, was refused a visa late on Tuesday. But Pakistani High Commission sources said they had no reason to deny Patel a visa, adding that Bhatt had approached Islamabad directly for the visas.
Bhatt said that while he and wife Soni Razdan, the director of Nazar, were given visas, Patel’s never came through. ‘‘This is like a body blow to us. It violates the spirit of Indo-Pak friendship,’’ said Bhatt, who is scheduled to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on May 21.
He has reason to be upset, right? After all, Patel’s Pakistani co-star has been working in India for almost a year now. ‘‘We expected a similar kind of reciprocity,’’ said Bhatt.
‘‘India has welcomed Pakistani artistes and cricketers with open arms, surely we deserve better,’’ Patel said.
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‘‘No formal application was made from here. Information for the visas came directly from Islamabad,’’ a senior Pakistani official said. Perhaps Patel’s name was left out of that list submitted to Islamabad then? High Commission officials say they never received any instructions for Patel.
The actor, who confirms that he never applied formally, is already hinting his visa might come through in a day or two. ‘‘Bhattsaab is meeting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on May 21. He is planning to speak to him tomorrow, so maybe it will all be sorted out,’’ he said.
Patel, who was to participate in a three-day promotional telethon for a Pak-based TV channel, has his own theory. ‘‘I have learned that Aaj TV’s rival channel has played some sort of a game. Their grouse is that though technically I won’t be performing at a stage show, by participating in a telethon I will be doing the same thing,’’ he said.
Indian artistes Shubha Mudgal, Abhijeet and Raza Murad were denied visas and not allowed to perform in Pakistan earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Bhatt promises that his visit to Pakistan will be productive. ‘‘The PM is a charming man, a financial wizard who should understand that this is what geo-economics is all about — unifying resources.’’
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