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Indian filmmakers on mission of unity denied Pakistan visa

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exemption from visa

Radhika Bhirani 

In a unique apolitical ‘exchange’, some Pakistani filmmakers came to India as part of a peace initiative called Zeal for Unity last week. Indian filmmakers who were to visit Pakistan were denied a visa, though.

From India, filmmakers like Tigmanshu Dhulia, Tanuja Chandra, Ketan Mehta and Bejoy Nambiar were slated to go over to the other side on foot through the Attari-Wagah border check post for Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s (ZEEL) Zeal For Unity (ZFU). But they couldn’t.

On being asked about why the Indian entourage of 20 people wasn’t granted the visa, Manzoor Ali Memon, a diplomat from the Pakistan High Commission here, told agencies: “We have checked with our concerned officers, but we don’t have any such applications… We have no details and applications of such kind.”

The ZFU team maintains the applications were made in time, but information on visas was delayed beyond March 16 when they were to travel and then the passports came back without the visa.

An initiative to use the “strength of creative thought leadership” from both the countries to bridge the divide between the two, ZFU involves six Indian directors, including Aparna Sen and Nikhil Advani, and six Pakistani directors of the likes of Mehreen Jabbar, Sabiha Sumar, and Meenu-Farjad, coming together on a common platform.

Pakistani filmmakers, except Jabbar, walked into India on March 15. After a day in Amritsar, they were to walk back into their country with the Indian entourage, and head to Lahore on March 16.

But since the Indians didn’t get the visa, the Pakistani filmmakers decided to stay an additional day, thereby not dissolving, but strengthening the purpose of the exchange.

Their bonhomie in Amritsar turned out to be “unforgettable” for the filmmakers, some of whom said the denial of visa would be a “forgettable story”.

Shailja Kejriwal, who spearheaded the initiative and is behind Zindagi channel which brings Pakistani content closer to Indians, told the agencies: “We were looking forward to visiting Pakistan and experiencing the beautiful city of Lahore, but the visa not coming through did not hamper us in achieving our objective.”

“For the first time ever, directors from both the sides came together on one common platform, and not getting the visa, this time, should not take away from us achieving this feat. This hurdle was actually turned into a blessing in disguise,” said the Chief Creative – Special Projects, ZEEL.

Emotional upon her return to Mumbai after two glorious days in Amritsar, Shailja shared that everyone “spoke at length about our cultures and our similarities and laughed together so much that we almost cried”.

ZFU involved the 12 filmmakers to make movies touching upon different subjects, and they had the freedom to choose their own tales and formats.

Dhulia, known for films like “Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster” and “Paan Singh Tomar”, was happy that “rather being formal with each other in the short span of time we would have got in Lahore, we spent a wonderful time together in Amritsar and those memories will be with all of us forever”.

Tanuja Chandra, who directed “Sangharsh” and “Dushman”, said: “To me, not getting visas didn’t outrage or diminish me in any way. Government agencies will work how they will and they have their reasons which we don’t need to jump upon with emotional reactions immediately. I was looking forward to visiting Lahore because it’s a beautiful city and our Pakistani friends were very keen to host us.”

She said that at Amritsar “we had a fun evening exchanging stories, poetry, jokes and warmth. The affection only grew. We had an extraordinary time. This has been an unforgettable trip. I look forward to many more such interactions, to making films together and finally to peace.”

Nikkhil Advani, who has directed “Kal Ho Naa Ho” and “D-Day”, wasn’t going to Lahore in the first place and had cancelled his shoot to be with the Pakistani filmmakers for an extra day. For him, he said, it was worth it.

“The objective of the initiative, bringing Indian and Pakistani directors together, was met. Launching ‘Zeal to Unity’ at the Wagah border was an overwhelming feeling and nothing can take away from that… I happily extended by stay to be with everyone and I’d do that anytime again in the future without a moment’s hesitation, because I believe sometime all it takes is to extend a hand.”(IANS)

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)

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Best Casinos In India

In areas like Goa, there are quite impressive gambling establishments, which can provide a pretty good idea as what the future holds.

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Casino
Casino Popular with Indian Gamblers. Pixabay

Gambling is hugely popular all around the world, especially in the form of casinos. People love nothing more than heading down to their favourite land-based casinos to try their luck on slot games, blackjack, poker and roulette. Nowadays, we have all heard and might have visited Las Vegas and Macau; two of the best places to experience the best casinos have to offer. In fact, there is arguably little to choose from between the two renowned places. With regards to India, gambling is currently restricted to certain regions. In spite of this gambling in this part of the world is still is a popular form of entertainment and has a growing following. So much so, that some believe, it won’t be long before we see casinos and gambling being allowed across the country; especially when taking into account revenues that will be realised through taxation and licensing.

Right now, in areas like Goa, there are quite impressive gambling establishments, which can provide a pretty good idea as what the future holds, if indeed gambling is allowed to flourish. We have taken the liberty of highlighting a few of the best that everyone needs to visit in India right now.

Casinos
We’re all very familiar with gambling websites and online casinos, where you can do anything from betting on sports events. Pixabay

Deltin Royale

The Deltin Royale is by far and away one of India’s finest, largest and most luxurious casinos. It’s a must visit venue for a reason, with gaming taking place on three levels. Whether slots or table games are your thing, your needs will be catered for, with 850 gaming positions inside the casino. Visitors will also be able to treat themselves to some fine dining, while also being able to enjoy fine wines and single malts. This place is more than just a casino, with plenty of shows, including stand up comedy, taking place on a regular basis.

Casino
This place is more than just a casino. Flickr

Casino Mahjong

Casino Mahjong is a venue with plenty to offer its visitors. It was set up by three entrepreneurs from Gangtok and aims to provide gamblers with that sweet feeling of triumph associated with winning. It’s actually one of the most famous casinos in India, spread across 7,000sqft, with 15 live gaming tables available to play at. They also offer a private poker room which sports 7 tables, with VVIP gaming and state-of-the-art slot games on offer too. Visitors will also find themselves entertained by the daily performances at Casino Mahjong, as the venue goes that extra mile to keep their players happy and entertained throughout their stay.

Casino
Mayfair Hotels & Resorts, along with Casino Mahjong support and promote responsible gambling. Flickr

Casino Pride

Casino Pride is a group of casinos within India, which are recognised as being some of the best around due to their high standard of gaming and hospitality. They currently have two five-star venues under their banner which tells you that they offer players the quality experiences they expect, every time. They’ve also been awarded the award for being the best casino in India by the Indian Travel Awards too. What you’ll find at Casino Pride establishments are slots and table games, as well as local favourites such as Mang Patta and Paplu. Casino Pride is an operator who stick close to their roots, while also recognising their international connections too.

Casino
A landmark of Glory & Glamour. With five Casinos & two five stars under its banner, awarded the best casino in India by Indian Travel Awards. Flickr

Casino Pearl

Casino Pearl is one of the newest casinos in India, located in the 5-star resort of Bogmallo. It may be relatively new to the scene, but it’s already managing to cause a stir with it being one of the largest casinos in the area. They have everything a gamer casino goer could need and more, with plenty of slots, table games, live roulette, baccarat and Tai Sai. Visitors are also able to take advantage of unlimited food at the buffet, as well as unlimited drinks, making this a must visit venue for people looking to have a good time.