Veteran Bollywood actor Om Puri has said only Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif can ensure people-to-people contact on both sides.
Puri, who is here on a three-day visit to attend the festival organised by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, also said the governments of India and Pakistan should not be scared of hardliners.
"There are two locks on Pakistani and Indian sides and the keys to these locks are in the hands of Nawaz Sharif and Modi. Unlocking these will afford people on both sides an opportunity to interact with each other," Puri said at the International Film Festival at the Alhamra Art Center here yesterday.
"Some 80 to 90 per cent people in India are secular and they hold no grudge against Pakistanis," the 65 year-old actor said.
Puri said to those Indians who saw Pakistan as an extremist country, he often argues that if that was the case then why schools and mosques in Pakistan were bombed.
"I request all those misled people to quit the ways which lead to hatred. Allah has warned against taking lives of innocent people, why being humans such elements are behaving like animals," he said.
Puri, who has done varied roles and won many awards for his realistic portrayals in cinema, said he got so much love and respect in Pakistan that he wanted to come here every year.
Narrating his childhood memories and struggle in early life, Puri said when he was six, his father, who was a railway employee, was put behind bars on allegation of cement theft at the railways store.
"We had to vacate the railway quarters and my mother rented out a room. She sent my elder brother to railway station to work as coolie and I was sent to a kiosk to serve tea to customers," he said and jokingly remarked that, "if I had a tea shop, I would have been the Prime Minister of India."
He told the audience that his first film was Chor Chor Chhup Ja. Puri also talked about his friendship with Naseeruddin Shah whom he met at the National School of Drama.
He shared with the audience how Neelam Man Singh, a known theatre actress and director, helped him get admission to the film institute at a time when he was facing penury.
Puri also talked about his job at 'Actors Studio', where he used to teach speech and among his pupils were Anil Kapoor, Gulshan Grover and many other famous Indian artistes.
"Since I was struggling to become part of the mainstream cinema, Naseeruddin Shah took me to Shayam Benegal and I also did stage plays and Punjabi cinema. People still remember my Punjabi movies Chan Perdesi and Long Da Lashkara. I was recognised with the film Aakrosh in 1981 for which I got Rs 10,000," he said.
Speaking about his experience of being part of Western cinema after commercial and art movies, he said his character in 'City of Joy' was a good experience and he learnt how to drive a rickshaw for the particular role in the film.