Yash Chopra had a soft corner for Pakistan: Visiting Pakistani director

Mumbai, Oct 29 (IANS) Saying she had a "long love history with Mumbai", visiting Pakistani director Iram Parveen Bilal says late Bollywood veteran Yash Chopra, who had a "soft corner for Pakistan", was such a source of inspiration for her that after graduating in engineering she took the plunge into filmmaking.

The young director, who has made her first film after four years of arduous work, grew up watching Chopra's evergreen romances "Kabhi Kabhie", "Chandni" and the like.

"I have always been a big nerd and I was selected to go to the Asian Olympiad of Physics. But my parents and me always loved Bollywood films. I have been brought up in Nigeria and Pakistan and I grew up watching films like 'Silsila', 'Kabhi Kabhie', 'Chandni'," Bilal told IANS in an interview.

Bilal spent four years working on her debut film "Josh", which was the only fiction-category film from Pakistan to be screened at the just concluded 14th Mumbai Film Festival. She was happy to be here with her debut film, but was heartbroken that she won't get to meet her idol Yash Chopra again, who died Oct 21.

Talking about her association with the veteran filmmaker, she said: "I have a long love history with Mumbai. I came here for the first time in 2004... Every time I came here, I met Yashji. No matter how busy he was, he would take out 5-10 minutes for me. He used to give me his pearls of wisdom. But the fact that he is no more and I won't be able to meet him is heartbreaking," she said.

"He (Chopra) was born in Lahore so he always had a soft corner for Pakistan. I was here when 'Veer-Zaara' released and it was a friend of a friend who introduced me to him. He welcomed me with open arms. He was a humble man who wanted to inspire people. I took advice from him and he always said in Raj Kapoor's style, 'The show must go on'."

"I don't know anyone in his family, but I will go and pay my respects to him," Bilal said.

Her movie "Josh" is the story of a privileged woman Fatima, played by Pakistan's supermodel and leading actress Aamina Sheikh, who is in search of a dangerous truth in her nanny Nusrat's feudal village.

( can be contacted at aastha.k@ians.in)