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Urmila moves a step closer
- Star in pak for UN documentary

People-to-people contact between India and Pakistan moved another step forward when Urmila Matondkar put her feet across the Wagah border today.

“It is like a dream coming true,” the excited actress told reporters gathered at the border.

The Bollywood actress, in Pakistan to shoot for a UN documentary called Moving Closer, was welcomed by her Pakistan counterpart Resham along with rising film star Shafqat Ali Khan, directors and producers.

The host of recent peace measures between both countries appeared to be on the Rangeela star’s mind when she said: “Culture and sports play an important role in promoting peace, tranquillity and harmony and this is what we badly need right now.”

Urmila became the first Indian celebrity to step across the border in the last three years following Dilip Kumar’s visit to Islamabad in early 2001.

He was here to receive the Nishan-e-Quaid-e-Azam, which Pakistan awarded to the veteran thespian in recognition of his six-decade service to the film industry.

Urmila will act in the documentary with Resham, Kamil Khan and the music band, Fusions. The film, she said, would go a long way in bringing the youth of both countries closer to each other. She added she would love to act in Pakistani films, if offered. “I have never ever worked in a movie that might have promoted tensions between Pakistan and India,” Urmila emphasised, perhaps referring to some recent Bollywood films that have indulged in Pakistan-bashing.

Artistes in Pakistan matched Urmila’s sentiments by welcoming her visit. Such interaction, they said, would supplement ongoing efforts to reduce tensions between the two countries.

“I believe such visits will remove the atmosphere of distrust between Pakistan and India and promote greater interaction among artistes,” said Ahsan Talish, a young director of several popular serials for local television channels.

Film and television artistes of both countries have often wanted to perform in each other’s films and serials, but have run into visa and other restrictions.

“There should be no restriction on the artistes because they serve as goodwill ambassadors among the nations,” Pakistani film legend Mustafa Qureshi told the state-run Pakistan Television.

Urmila said she was impatient to walk down the streets of Lahore, a city of which she has heard a lot.

The star of the recent Partition drama, Pinjar, said words failed her in expressing her gratitude to the people of Pakistan for their hospitality. “It is really nice to be in Pakistan,” she said.

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