Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 11:37 UK

India opens up to Pakistan film

A couple in Delhi looks at the poster of Khuda Kay Liye
The film stars well-known Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah

A critically acclaimed Pakistani film on Islam has been released across cinemas in India.

It is the first Pakistani film to get a wide commercial release in India in over four decades.

Khuda Kay Liye (In the Name of God) focuses on the lives of Muslims after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.

Officially, India and Pakistan have banned each other's films since going to war in 1965.

But in recent years, the two countries have made exceptions. In 2003, Pakistani film Khamosh Paani (Silent Waters) had a limited release in India. In 2006, Pakistan allowed three Indian films to be shown.

'Answer to West'

Khuda Kay Liye stars Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah. Pakistani Shoaib Mansoor makes his debut as the film's director.

"It's been long that terrorism has been linked with Muslims and it has become synonymous with the community," Shah said, the Reuters news agency reports.

"It was high time that an answer to this was given to the West... That is the only reason that this film has mostly been made in English, to cater to the western audiences."

A scene from Taj Mahal
Bollywood film Taj Mahal was shown in Pakistan

The film had its premiere in Mumbai (Bombay) on Thursday evening.

"It is a very good movie and more films like this should be made," Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar said.

"Khuda Kay Liye has been appreciated very much wherever it is screened and it is a very good bond between the two countries," he said.

In 2006, Pakistan approved three Indian films for screening.

These included Mughal-e-Azam, the 1960 classic starring Dilip Kumar and Madhubala; Taj Mahal, a 2005 film starring Pakistani actress Sonia Jehan; and the 1984 film Sohni Mahiwal.

More recently, Bollywood releases Welcome and Race have been shown in Pakistan.

Indian films are hugely popular in Pakistan and illicit copies are easy to find.

India's Hindi-language film industry, which includes Bombay's Bollywood movies, is the world's largest by viewership.

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