KARACHI: When singer-turned-actor Ali Zafar missed a promotional event in India for his upcoming movie Chashme Baddoor, the Hindustan Times reported that the star’s visa had been turned down.
An insider from the production team informed the Indian daily that Zafar was denied the visa for unknown reasons, saying “He was supposed to join the team but couldn’t as his India work visa had been turned down.” However, his publicist, Ammara Hikmat, denied the rumours and said Zafar will be heading to India soon.
“This is completely incorrect — he never applied for a visa,” Hikmat told The Express Tribune. “He’s been busy in the UK promoting his film Aman Ki Asha this entire month; he also attended a press conference for Chashme Baddoor there.” Due to his busy schedule, he was unable to fly to India to be an active part of any promotional activities, she added.
Indo-Pak relations have seen their troughs and peaks, but when it comes to Bollywood and entertainment, Indians have mostly welcomed Pakistani singers, musicians and actors with open arms. “Ali keeps going back and forth alone and with his family,” she said, adding that they have always treated him like one of their own. “So I don’t understand why his visa would get rejected in the first place — this is all fabricated.”
“[Earlier] because of LOC issues, it was said that Pakistani artists were thrown out of India — this is not true either,” continued Hikmat. “I’ve been to India at least four times in these past five months and I’ve been treated pretty well.”
Whether or not the visa rejection story is true or simply a publicity stunt, one thing is for sure — the Indian media craves masala-filled stories. “It’s all propaganda and nothing else — it’s a way of attracting attention and making waves,” says a source close to the actor.
The film is scheduled to release on April 5 in India and Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013.
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