New Delhi, July 15 : Ramchand Pakistani, a Pakistani film about a boy who inadvertently strays into Indian territory, will be premiered simultaneously in India and Pakistan.
The film is inspired by a real-life incident and examines the emotional turmoil of an eight-year-old boy and his father after they cross into India and are jailed, while the mother in Pakistan is left waiting to see their fate.
The film's releases in India and Pakistan on August 1 will be a rare event considering political rivalry has limited cultural interaction between the two nuclear-armed nations.
Javed Jabbar produces the film.
Jabbar, whose daughter Mehreen directed "Ramchand Pakistani", said Pakistan allowed filming to take place close to sensitive border areas in Sindh province while India let the crew visit a jail in Gujarat to maintain "visual and narrative authenticity".
"It's a very common phenomenon that lot of Indians cross into Pakistan by mistake. The film is set in the desert area of Thar, which borders Gujarat and Rajasthan and the border is very porous. Now there is a fence but in 2002 it was separated by rocks and pebbles so lot of cows strayed over to the other side and children would walk over it is very common," said Mehreen.
Further, Mehreen said that the film showcases the plight of the prisoners who are caught between the rivalries of the two countries.
"It's very human story, it's about a family that's separated. It is a very common story for both India and Pakistan. I think India has around 700 Pakistani prisoners while Pakistan has same amount of India prisoners. It's important to raise awareness about the cases because they are lost in the system because of India and Pakistan's relations. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are okay and sometimes they are bad and these people get forgotten," said Mehreen.
Bollywood actress Nandita Das, known for her roles in bold, unconventional productions, plays the mother in the film whose main characters are from Pakistan's minority Hindu community.
Das, while speaking to the media said that the film was close to her heart because of the issues it deals with.
"The issue that it raises you know (that was the reason of signing the movie). You know we have so many mental barriers especially between India and Pakistan whether it is a cricket match, whether it's a media report. So I think it's a collaborative effort without making much hullabaloo about it, we are just working together," said Das.
When Indian troops find the boy Ramchand and his father who comes looking for him, they suspect them of being spies.
Set partly in 2002 when tensions between the South Asian neighbors brought them close to war, the pair ends up in a grim jail where Ramchand spends his boyhood. His mother, meanwhile, has no way of knowing where her son and husband have gone.
Instances of innocent people, from India and Pakistan, being jailed for years after accidentally straying into each other's territory are common. The two countries release such prisoners from time to time as a peace gesture.
But "Ramchand Pakistani", made at a budget of 60 million Pakistani rupees (around 5,000), is a story about human emotions and didn't set out to explore a solution to the bilateral problem, producer Jabbar said.
"Inevitably, we knew that there hopefully would be a positive impact, but it's not deliberately conceived as a political film," he explained.
Pakistan banned Indian films after going to war with India in 1965 but over the past few years, authorities have been allowing some Bollywood films to show in cinemas.
In April 2008, for the first time in years, a Pakistani film "Khuda Kay Liye" opened in Indian cinemas.
With "Ramchand Pakistani" about to follow suit, Jabbar believes it is a sign the Pakistani film industry may soon shed its reputation of making low-budget imitations of Bollywood fare.
The film is slated for release in India in Mid-August.