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Will Pakistani Actors Shine Bright in Bollywood?

Juhi Chakraborty, New Delhi
File - AFP (From Outlook Issue , July 26, 2010)

After Pakistani singers, popular actors from across the border --Fawad Khan, Humaima Malik and Imran Abbas -- are all set to make their big bang debut in Bollywood in two months.

Leading the pack is Pakistani heartthrob Fawad, a well-known TV and film star back home.

He will make his Bollywood debut opposite Sonam Kapoor with 'Khoobsurat' but the actor has already made his way into the hearts of the Indian audience with his romantic TV show 'Zindagi Gulzar Hain', ahead of the Disney-UTV film's release.

The actor, who starred in acclaimed Pakistani film 'Khuda Ke Liye', has reportedly signed his second Bollywood project with Yash Raj Films in which he will be paired opposite Kareena Kapoor.

Humaima, a popular model-actress, who has proved her acting mettle back home in 'Bol' and TV shows, will romance Emraan Hashmi in 'Raja Natwarlal'.

Filmmaker Vikram Bhatt's 'Creature 3D' will mark the Bollywood debut of Pakistani model-turned-actor Imran Abbas Naqvi. The thriller also stars Bipasha Basu as the female lead.

These three Bollywood debutants will hope to replicate the success of Pakistani singer-actor Ali Zafar, who has done five films with big banners.

Zafar began his acting career with Bollywood film 'Tere Bin Laden', which was sleeper hit at the box office. He went on to star in Yash Raj Films' 'Mere Brother Ki Dulhan', 'London Paris New York', 'Chashme Baddoor' and 'Total Siyapaa'.

Besides acting, Zafar also playbacks for himself in movies and his career is going from strength to strength. He will be next seen in YRF's upcoming 'Kill Dil', which stars Parineeti Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Govinda.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, known for introducing new talent from Pakistan including the likes of Atif Aslam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Meera, feels the reach of India cinema and its global popularity is the reason behind the entry of actors from across the border.

"I think Indian cinema is a force to reckon with. I started this movement some 11 years ago. I began this with the core philosophy to create an atmosphere of peace. I am happy that people have taken a cue from that and are welcoming new talent from Pakistan. 

In the recent past, Pakistani starlets Veena Mallik, Meera and Sara Loren tried their luck in Bollywood films without much success.

Meera ('Nazar') and Sara ('Murder 3') took the big screen way to enter the Hindi film industry while Veena made a bold entry in India by participating in controversial reality show 'Bigg Boss' before doing movies.

Post her antics on the TV show, the actress starred in forgettable films like 'Daal Mein Kuch Kaala Hai', 'Zindagi 50-50', 'Supermodel' and Kannada film 'Dirty Picture: Silk Sakkath Maga'. She will also appear in 'Mumbai 125 KM 3D'.

Actress Sonya Jehan made her film debut in India with 'Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story' in which she played Mumtaz Mahal. Jehan, however, disappeared after doing small roles in films like 'Khoya Khoya Chand' and Karan Johar's 'My Name is Khan'.

Actor Javed Sheikh made a foray to Bollywood in 2005. He rose to fame playing supporting roles in big-budget films like 'Namaste London', in which he played Rishi Kapoor's best friend and superstar Shah Rukh Khan's father in 'Om Shanti Om'.

However, this phenomena is not new as in the '80s and '90s many prominent and established actors from Pakistan came to Bollywood. Actress Zeba Bakhtiar gained prominence through her Bollywood debut 'Henna' in 1991.

The Randhir Kapoor-directed film was India's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Zeba starred in other Bollywood films as well including 'Mohabbat Ki Arzoo' and 'Jai Vikraanta' but none could match the success of her debut film. 

Singer-actress Salma Agha was another artiste from Pakistan, who sang as well as acted in Indian films in the 1980s and the early 1990s. Her first film was BR Chopra's 'Nikaah' in which she sang the haunting ghazal 'Dil Ke Armaan Aansuon Mein Beh Gaye'.

Other names from Pakistan who visited B-Town to gain fame and a push for their careers include Meesha Shafi, Somy Ali and Mohsin Khan.

Most of the actors from Pakistan have been one or two film wonders besides Zafar, who has consolidated his position by working in big budget productions. It remains to be seen whether the new crop of talent will manage to create a place for themselves in the Hindi film industry or bite the dust.

Singers from Pakistan have always been a significant import to Hindi films. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, his nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Adnan Sami, Atif Aslam, Abida Parveen, Mehdi Hassan, Nazia Hassan, Farida Khanum have always found equal love from both sides of the border.

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