“Why is There Negative Publicity About My Role?”
AGHAST IS THE LOOK on Mona Lisa’s face, when you talk to her regarding why her Indian film, Kajra Re is is being considered a real no-no in local film circles! She says when she was cast in the film by Pooja Bhatt, she hardly knew anything about the communal side of this film.

“It’s all blown out of proportion,” the delicate and easy-going girl tells you, when you mention this controversy. “I can’t understand why there is so much negative publicity about my role, regarding Kajra Re. When I was told about the role by Pooja, she basically narrated a story that sympathized with the dancing girls at the bazaar. There was no talk of the religious side, or the communal aspect. Neither is there any need to make an issue out of it,” Mona said tongue-in-cheek.

But, it’s not actually the censors, but Suhail Khan, the famous distributor-film-maker, who says that he won’t release Kajra Re in Pakistan. He says that he doesn’t think it proper that such a subject should be risked in this country, where it will certainly create a bad taste in the mouth of the people, and it would never do well.

But Mona shakes her head on hearing the logic. “I am not sure if this is realistic,” Mona says matter-of-factly. “The story is basically about the tragic fact that the dancing girls are never approached by good family men. Pooja shows that such women are also humans, and they also wait for their Prince Charming. I play just such a girl, who is finally given protection, and then married to a Hindu boy. But, that is at the end, and throughout the film, there’s no such issue discussed. Let’s face it, I am an actress, and if I have a good role, then such itsy bitsy facts have to be ignored.”

Well, Mona may be right. The fact is that we screened just such a film in Pakistan, in early 2001, called Tere Pyar Mein, which had Zara Sheikh and Shaan. It had a Muslim Pakistani boy, played by Shaan, who loves a Sikh Indian girl, played by Zara. The film was well-made by Hasan Askari, although the Mujahideen segment was not done properly. The censors did not have any strong words for it. So how come Mona’s role in Kajra Re is such a bother?