ZEEL launches 'Zeal For Unity' platform for Indo-Pak filmmakers

MUMBAI: After bridging the cultural gap between India and Pakistan with the launch of the Indian Urdu entertainment channel Zindagi showcasing Pakistani serials, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) has taken yet another step towards promoting Indo-Pak unity with the launch of an initiative called Zeal For Unity (ZFU).

ZEEL will bring together 12 filmmakers, six each from India and Pakistan, and fund their one-hour shorts, which will then be showcased across platforms like film festivals, television, theatre and digital under the ZFU initiative.

From India, ZEEL has roped in six filmmakers namely Aparna Sen, Ketan Mehta, Nikhil Advani, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Bejoy Nambiar and Tanuja Chandra, whereas the six Pakistani directors are Mehreen Jabbar, Oscar winner Sabiha Sumar, Khalid Ahmad, Shahbaz Sumar, Shiraj Ul Haq and Meenu Farjad.

Of the 12 films, while some are in various stages of production, some are complete. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Baarish Aur Chowmein starring Taapsee Pannu, Vidyut Jamwal and Amit Sadh; Bejoy Nambiar’s Dobaara; Ketan Mehta’s Toba Tek Singh starring Pankaj Kapur; Mehreen Jabbar’s Lala Begum and Shahbaz Sumar’s Khaeme Mein Matt Jhankain are among the few films that will be showcased under this initiative.

ZFU’s proposition - ‘It Takes Two’ is an extension of ZEEL’s corporate philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ meaning ‘The World is my Family.’

Speaking to on ZFU, ZEEL chief business officer Sunil Buch said, “We are launching a very unique peace initiative, Zeal for Unity. The whole idea was to bring together the creative minds, filmmakers, cultural exponents and thought leaders from India and Pakistan to facilitate an apolitical exchange environment of peace and harmony. For the first time ever in the history of India and Pakistan, 12 filmmakers, six each from both the countries will come together to showcase their work for one common interest - Zeal For Unity.”

ZEEL chief creative - special projects Shailja Kejriwal added, “Zee has the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and under that we keep doing such initiatives. In that context a couple of years back we launched the Zindagi channel and now this the second step we are taking in that direction. This time Indian filmmakers will produce Pakistani films and I think it’s a huge step because India has never produced any Pakistani films. By putting Zindagi in people’s homes, we actually put Pakistan in front of Indian audiences and that changed the common notion among people.”

ZEEL is planning to launch the films over the next six - seven months. “This August, India’s 70th year of Independence will start, so we proposed to do something with ZFU over this one year period from 14 - 15 August, 2016 to 14-15 August, 2017,” added Kejriwal.     

Further explaining the idea behind the initiative, Buch said, “There is a huge cultural overlap between the countries and there is a sense of curiosity among people. ZFU’s proposition is based on the fact that it takes two to bring the change and the change can only be brought through concentrated efforts of people from both the countries. It’s a classic example whereby we share available content, which one has only heard about. With Zindagi, we were able to make people in India experience that content from Pakistan. So in line with that philosophy, demonstrating clear and visible thought leadership, we thought of taking this step.”

Kejriwal said that while doing shows for Zindagi, the company got in touch with lot of creative talent from Pakistan. “We have been inviting stories and people who have been interested in participating and we received a great response from Pakistan. We have joined hands with well-known directors because they believe that they want to get out of their couches and actually stand for a cause,” she says.

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