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Star studded <i>Mughal-E-Azam</i> Pakistan premiere

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Friday, June 23, 2006 

New Delhi (UNI): It had a quiet release in Pakistan in April, when it pipped Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal to become the first Indian film to hit theatres in the neighbouring country. After premiering Mughal-e-Azam at Lahore's Gulistan cinema on April 22, thus breaking a nearly five decade -long barrier to screening of Indian films in theatres in the neighbouring country, Akbar Asif, son of the legendary maker K Asif has made grand preparations for ushering the 60s classic into Pakistan in a big way tomorrow. So while the April premiere of the film, starring the late Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala in the roles of Emperor Akbar, Prince Salim and his beloved Anarkali, was a low key affair, attended by select government officials and socialites, arrangements have been made for Mughal-e-Azam's premiere at a star-studded function in Pakistan tomorrow.

Bollywood stars like Saif Ali Khan, Urmila Matondkar, Aftab Shivdasani, Dino Morea, Ayesha Takia, Neha Dhupia and Amrita Arora are likely to grace the event, Akbar Asif told UNI. A charity dinner for the earthquake victims in Pakistan will also be held on the occasion, he said. ''The release of Mughal-e-Azam in Pakistan is a fulfilment of my father's dream. It is to ensure the fruit of the desire of my father, who wanted Mughal-e-Azam to be the first film to release across the border, that I went in for a low key release in April. However, it was my wish that an epic like Mughal-e-Azam be released in Pakistan with fanfare,''Akbar Asif said.

Infact, London-based Akbar Asif had all along planned a grandiose release for Mughal-e-Azam on June 2, including a hunt to find a new Anarkali through a major television hunt spreading over six months. However, when it turned out later that Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal-An eternal Love Story , which released in Pakistan on April 28, would eventually become the first Indian film to make it to Pakistani theatres, Akbar Asif dropped plans for a grandiose release as he wanted his film to be the first Indian cinematic venture to hit theatres in the neighbouring country.

The premiere of Mughal-e-Azam comes even as recent amendments by the Pakistani Government to its 1980 Film Rules Act have cleared the way for Pakistani filmmakers to operate with Indian actors. As per four amendments made to the 1980 Film Rules Act on June 5 by the Pakistan Ministry of Culture, the 'notorious' Paragraph 5, a major obstacle for Pakistani filmmakers wanting to hire Indian actors, has been deleted, thus paving way for Indian actors to cross the border to work in films in the neighbouring country. Lauding the move by the Pakistan Government, Mr Akbar Asif said,''I am happy that Pakistan Government has opened doors for Indian actors to work in films in the neighbouring country.'' ''The move will help carry forward the process of building of cultural bridges between India and Pakistan, which I had begun by securing the release of Mughal-e-Azam in Pakistan as the first film to be theatrically released in the neighbouring country last month,''Akbar Asif said. ''For me , it also marks the fulfilment of my father's dream to bring the two countries closer in a deep bond of friendship,''he said. The star-studded event has been organised by the famous Morani brothers, who have in the past organised several Bollywood concerts in foreign country including the recently-concluded Rockstars concerts. 

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