Kalki Koechlin's visit to Pakistan last year was an eye-opening experience for the actor.
At the India Today Conclave 2017, the actor spoke about how her views on the Pak-India issue were initially based around the friction between the two countries, but upon visiting Pakistan to work on her documentary Azmaish, a collaboration with Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar, her perspective changed -- something she was hoping for.
"I think it was my neutrality on the subject [that I chose the project]; I didn’t have a particularly strong standpoint on the whole India-Pakistan issue."
"From my point of view, I accepted the project out of curiosity. I had never been to Pakistan and I only knew India and Pakistan in terms of conflicts," she said. "I wanted to see another aspect, perhaps, a more human aspect."
During her visit she noticed a lot of similarities between the neighbouring countries and said that the the two things that unify Pakistan and India are cricket and Bollywood.
“Bollywood is huge in Pakistan. People recognised me because of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Even with India, a lot of us are unified because of movies. People of northeast India speak Hindi because of Bollywood,” she said.
The actor travelled to various cities and villages in Pakistan and connected the culture here to what she sees back home. "In places like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, I could draw so many similarities between the rural parts of Pakistan in terms of the conservative way to look at women who are voiceless. I also saw how power and religion work closely with each other."
"Once you remove ideologies, you start seeing the people and their struggles. Pakistanis are as terrified of terrorism as anyone else in the world."
What surprised her most was the 'openness' with which she was received here. "A lot of things surprised me. One thing that I loved was their curiosity because there’s very little outside influence in Pakistan vis-a-vis India. The openness with which they met me was very surprising."
Talking about her documentary Azmaish - Trials of Life, she said, "In the documentary, we had set up a fashion show. Hundreds of men had come to watch the show. We asked these men what they thought about their Pakistani women being models. They said they were happy to see them. When we asked how they would like it if their wives were doing this, they said their leaders will slit their throats. It was said in a tone which meant that things were not going to change."
For the documentary, Sumar and Koechlin are travelling through India and Pakistan, and "exploring the two countries through their lifestyles, religious dynamics, and violence stemming from extremism."