Meera: Pakistani film actress fined, targeted, honored
Popular Pakistani film actress Meera, 27, has been burdened with a "heavy fine," courtesy of Pakistan's Ministry of Culture. The reason for the stern ruling? Meera kisses her Indian co-star Ashmit Patel in Mahesh Bhatt's supernatural Bollywood thriller Nazar ("Sight").
According to an OutlookIndia.com March '05 article, the kissing scene was deemed offensive to "Islamic ethics and moral values."
The Pakistani government, apparently afraid that Pakistanis will emulate Meera's vile deed and start kissing one another, is reportedly considering a ban on Pakistani actors from acting in Indian films. (See also: "'9 Songs' Movie: Explicit Sex Results in Censorship Issues.")
And that's not all, as far as Meera is concerned.
Alleged target of 'extremists'
The BBC reports that Meera has asked for government protection "from extremists here who have threatened my life" because of the Nazar kiss. Some critics, however, have asserted that the actress' statement is a publicity gimmick.
Widespread bootlegged copies aside, Nazar will probably not be released in Pakistan, as Indian films have been banned in that country since the 1965 India-Pakistan War.*
All appearances to the contrary, rumors that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has been taking lessons from the Pakistani government and that country's religious censors seem to be unfounded.
Addendum: The Hindustan Times reports that Meera finds herself in one more imbroglio, this time for receiving a Peace Award from Pakistan Film Censor Board Chairman Ziauddin. Go figure.
Those who don't think that Meera's controversial appearance in Nazar deserved a peace award have accused Ziauddin of favoritism.
Also, Pakistan's Ministry of Culture has denied having taken any action against the actress.
And finally, Pakistan lifted the ban on Indian films in 2006.
* Some sources state that the ban on Indian films was instituted in 1962.
"Meera: Film Actress Too Hot for Pakistan Censors" is a revised edition of an article originally posted in March '05.
Image of Ashmit Patel and Meera in Nazar: Vishesh Films. Via the website SantaBanta.com.
Finnish movies at 2005 Travelling Festival in Rennes
The 2005 Travelling Festival of Rennes is currently being held in that northwestern French city. Each year, the festival focuses on films made in or about a particular city. This year's pick is Helsinki, which has turned the Travelling Festival into the largest showcase ever for Finnish films in France.
"Helsinki ... What is it? Where is it?" says Travelling Festival artistic director Hussam Hindi, in reference to the reaction of several locals when told that the 2005 festival would focus on films made in or about the Finnish capital.
Last year's city of choice was Marseille, which brought in 36,000 filmgoers. Festival organizers are expecting as many ticket buyers to check out the movies of the brothers Aki Kaurismäki and Mika Kaurismäki, Valentin Vaala, and a host of other Finnish filmmakers.
The Travelling Festival in Rennes ends on March 8. Next year, the focus will be on Algiers.