Indian film fest in Abu Dhabi opens with 'Veer-Zaara'

Indo-Asian News Service

Abu Dhabi, Nov 3 (IANS) Acclaimed filmmaker Yash Chopra said Bollywood made "films from the heart" as his cross-border love story "Veer-Zaara" kicked off the Indian film fest here.

"I feel culture has no language, no religion," Chopra said at the inauguration of the Indian Film Festival of Abu Dhabi here Sunday night.

"We filmmakers don't work with calculators and computers. Our computers are our heart. We make films from the heart," he added.

"Love is the only feeling in the world which can never be compromised," said Chopra, director of some of Indian cinema's biggest romantic classics like "Daag", "Silsila", "Lamhe" and "Dil To Pagal Hai".

The festival in the UAE capital has been organised by the Indian embassy and the Abu Dhabi Authority on Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

Stating that the selection of "Veer-Zaara", which stars Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Rani Mukerji, for the opening of the festival was significant, he said: "This film has crossed manmade borders.

"An Indian boy falls in love with a Pakistani girl and the film shows all the trials and tribulations they face. There is no villain, there is no crime, there is nothing. It (the film) has only one thing - love. I always believed that love is the only feeling in the world that can never be compromised."

Referring to the film's theme, which shows a Pakistani lawyer fighting a case for an Indian prisoner, Chopra called for the breaking for all manmade borders.

"I wish we cross all borders - artificial borders, manmade borders - and do something for humankind to bring peace to the world," said Chopra.

While appreciating the initiative of the Indian embassy and ADACH in organising the film festival, the Dada Saheb Phalke award winner offered all his help in all such initiatives on cultural interaction between India and the UAE.

He said: "I am the only producer who has got a distribution office in the UAE. I have been in the industry for the last 56 years. Any help, I will be ready to contribute to the wonderful relationship between India and the UAE."

Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE's Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, added: "Indian cinema possesses an unusual power to unify diverse peoples.

"The language of art connects us all. It reminds us of our commonness and of our individuality, our common experiences and our potential to achieve."

Sheikh Nahyan thanked India's Ambassador to the UAE Talmiz Ahmad for exploring this dimension of India-UAE cultural ties.

Ahmad said that the festival was the first of a series of initiatives being taken by the Indian mission here to boost cultural ties between Indian and the UAE.

"This is an effort on our part to reach out to various communities in the UAE. Our films depict our various people, ordinary people, and the various dilemmas they face. Indian cinema depicts all aspects of life," he said.

Abdulla Salim Al Amri, director of the Art and Culture Department in ADACH, said the festival is a reflection of ADACH's deep investment in the world of films, supporting a range of projects like the Middle East Film Festival and The Emirates Film Competition.

"The Indian Film Festival is a welcome contribution to this, and we aim to nurture the festival's popularity for many years to come," he said.

The festival runs Nov 2-11 at the Al Dhafra Theatre at the Cultural Foundation here.

Apart from "Veer-Zaara", other films to be screened are Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury's "Anuranan" (Bengali), Ameer Sultan directed "Paruthiveeran" (Tamil), Ashutosh Gowarikar's 'Jodhaa Akbar' (Hindi), "Daatu" (Kannada) by Shivarudraiah, Ranjith's "Kayyoppu" (Malayalam) and Jayaraj's "Gul Mohar" (Malayalam).

The screening of each of these films, except for one, will be preceded by the screening of a UAE-made documentary.

Malayalam short film "The Waiting" will be shown ahead of "Kayyoppu".

Apart from films, the festival will also feature a two-day seminar on Indian cinema in which experts like Rachel Dwyer, professor of Indian cultures and cinema at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies in the University of London, Indian author Jerry Pinto and Anil Sinanan, critic in the Times Online, will participate.

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