Are Bollywood films popular in Pakistan

War tears from Kashmir

They crawl through the cold cashmere snow, bullets whistle around their ears. There are corpses everywhere. Yet the Indian soldiers fight valiantly, knowing that few of them will survive this inferno at more than 5000 meters on the highest battlefield in the world. Since the end of December 2003, "LoC: Kargil", the new war epic by Bollywood star director J. P. Dutta, has been moving millions of Indians to tears - and causing controversy.

Film scene from LoC: Kargil

The four-hour film heroizes 24 Indian soldiers who fought against the Pakistanis in the Kargil district in the Himalayan region of Kashmir in 1999. In April 1999, Pakistani soldiers entered the Indian-occupied part of Kashmir unnoticed. More than 1000 people lost their lives on the Line of Control (LoC) in the following five months of war. India emerged victorious from this border conflict with Pakistan, but the trauma of the possible loss of Kashmir remained. One that can make a handsome sum of money. This is exactly what the critics accuse director Dutta, who does not want to give his first names.

Cash in with the hereditary enemy

The patriotic film also stirs up hatred and distrust of the Indians towards the Pakistanis at a time when the two nuclear powers are slowly coming closer together on a political level. Air traffic between the neighbors, which was interrupted after an attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001, has been back on January 1, 2004. From January 15, 2004 the "Samjhauta" -Express - the "consensus train" - will be rolling again.

Film scene from LoC: Kargil

"I definitely didn't want to stir up patriotism in India," says Dutta. "Rather, with 'LoC: Kargil' I want to show people on both sides of the border that brothers have killed their brothers. This war should never have taken place." The discussions about the film were the right advertisement. The 75 million euro war strip is well on its way to becoming a blockbuster. In Pakistan, films from India's film capital Bombay - also known as Bollywood - are available as pirated copies and are very popular, although their distribution is illegal. This increases the fear of a wave of hatred for India in the Pakistani population. Abhishek Bachchan, one of the main actors in the film, hopes for understanding: "The bravery and courage of the soldiers are in the foreground. That is not anti-Pakistani."

Art as a bridge

For more than five decades, some directors, actors and singers from both countries have tried to work together away from all political animosity. However, only a few - such as the now deceased Pakistani Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - are successful in their home and neighboring countries. Indian director Mahesh Bhatt recently emphasized that Indians and Pakistanis have the same roots: "We are linked by our genes, we eat the same thing, we wear the same clothes and, as hard as we try, we will not be separated from each other . "

More and more artists are agreeing to this, knowing full well the potential millions of euros in opening up the Indian and Pakistani entertainment markets for both sides. Dutta's "LoC: Kargil" seems somehow out of place at the time of this cultural and political thaw.