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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 22:12 GMT
Pakistan actress wows Bollywood

By Jayshree Bajoria
BBC correspondent in Bombay

The Indian press has crowned her the Aishwarya Rai of Pakistan - after Bollywood's most successful female star.

Reema is overwhelmed by her welcome on her first Indian visit

A household name in Pakistan after having acted in nearly 200 films, Reema is visiting the western Indian city of Bombay - home to India's famously prolific film industry.

At parties thrown in her honour by Indian film legends, Reema says she brings a message of peace from across the border.

"People in both countries want peace," she told the BBC.

"And I bring this message with me to further better relations between the two countries."

Love stories

It is a hope echoed by those she has met in Bombay (Mumbai).

"They all want Indian artists to work in Pakistan and Pakistani artists to work in India," says Reema.

"There should be a joint venture between the two countries."

Cooperation between artistes is the key to peace, Reema says

Reema's reputation was built in the city of Lahore - home to Pakistan's answer to Bollywood, Lollywood.

She says her visit to Bombay was prompted by the recent thaw in relations between her country and India.

But she charmingly turns down cliched roles in the more improbable love stories featuring Indian boys and Pakistani girls.

"How many times will you do the same story?" she asks, as producers and directors entreat her to play a part in their latest ventures.

Reema believes artistes in the two countries can help bring the two countries closer.

Accompanying her in Bombay are the producer, Mohammed Shoaib Alam, the veteran director and actor, Rangeela, and the classical singer, Ustad Rafaqat Ali Khan.

"I think technically Bollywood is better, but despite being much smaller, there is no dearth of talent in Lollywood," she says.

'Too busy to call home'

Asked about fellow Pakistani actresses who failed to make it big in Bollywood, Reema suggests they may not have been good enough all-rounders.

While some were good actresses, they couldn't dance, while others who could sway to the tunes were not fine enough performers.

A role in Bollywood beckons for the Pakistani actress

But she is confident she will make it.

She has certainly been busy enough in Bombay, passing time with countless big names - Rakesh Roshan and his son, Hrithik, as well as producers Ramesh Sippy, Bharat Shah, Jeetendra and Sawan Kumar.

Asked which Bollywood actors she would most like to have worked with, the answer, predictably enough, was vintage screen idols Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar.

"I am overwhelmed by the love and affection showered on me by the Indians, the media and the film industry," she tells the BBC.

Laughing, she adds: "In fact, they have kept me so busy that, believe me, I haven't had the time to speak to my family back home!"

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