"I had no clue that Welcome was to release in Pakistan" - Anees Bazmee
By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Writer-director Anees Bazmee who delivered one of the biggest hits of 2007, Welcome, is very angry and upset by the fate of his film in Pakistam. Speaking on the subject, Anees said, "I had no clue my Welcome was to be released in Pakistan! Nobody told me anything about it…not even producer Feroz Nadiadwala. I guess once I direct and deliver a film it's no longer my intellectual or commercial property. Fair enough. But what was the harm if I was told about such a big event in my life as filmmaker?"
Not too many Indian films have been released in Pakistan. There was Akbar Khan Saab's Taj Mahal and Bhatt Saab's Awaraapan. Both had a connection with Pakistan. Says Anees, "Welcome had no relevance to people across the border except entertainment. So yes, I'd have loved to be part of its release there. It's sad that I got to know about it through my friends in Pakistan. I agree I was out of the country working on my script. But I was just a phone call away."
What hurt and offended Anees even more was that one of his main characters played by Feroz Khan has been totally obliterated in Pakistan. "I understand Feroz Khan Saab had some problems with the local authorities in Pakistan when he visited there and made some remarks they didn't like. But why should my film suffer for that? His role is very important in Welcome. He's there for nearly an hour of the film's 2-hour playing time. By cutting his track in the plot, you're reducing my film to incoherency! I find that hard to accept."
Ironically, pirated DVDs of Welcome with the ostensibly offensive portions featuring Feroz Khan flooded the Pakistani market months weeks before the film's official release in the country.
Fumes Anees, "I don't know why I wasn't taken into confidence about the release, or how the film could've been re-edited so drastically without my consent. I understand distributors have their own compulsions and demands. But my film can't be mutilated for political purposes."