A noted journalist from mainstream media found my story "interesting" and was pitching for me to appear on a prestigious local news paper. When he called me a few months ago and said " I am going to make you a star" - I thought I must be doing something right.
But that was before I shared the you tube link of " A jihad of my own" with him. I was holding the line waiting for him to watch the teaser and react. He came back on the phone with a distinctly different tone and said' "NOW you are scaring me buddy!"
A sweet little Blondie FPN, 13 years younger to me who had agreed to play Jennifer and was all excited at the possibilities it will offer, until she saw the that teaser. She showed up the next day with " I am sorry , can't do it" written all over her face!
My friends, here and in India advised me against going ahead with the project. "Make some comedy" one said, "people have spent lives doing research on politico/ religious topic, make sure you don't screw up" said the other. One of them even informed me about how cast and crew of " Khuda ke Liye" have went into hiding fearing retribution...
As usual I called Mullah to make sense of why these guys are reacting like this. Mullah too was unsymphtatic, "you are touching the nerves with that word man, don't do it".
I am aghast at these events. What is going on world? How come a word became so dirty that no one wants to associate with it? Even though this film is all about love with a universal massage and absolute minimum violence, why this knee jerk reaction?
There are 1.3 billion Muslims in this World. They are available in every shape, form and colors. 1 out of 5 person on this planet is a Muslim. We interact with them on a daily basis yet we don't know much about them. When in 2005 Americans were asked" what they thought of Muslim and Islam?", a majority 57% responded with "NOTHING". Shouldn't this be a cause of concern for the Muslim world in particular and the entire world in general?
We are living in a different world today and ignoring thy neigbour is not going to cut. Are we going to paint the entire civilization with the color of a few? Then what do we do? What is the way forward?
Ironically these were the questions my film was going to explore....
ps: It ain't that bad folks. I still have Rafiq Batcha, Jeff Shipman and others that are waiting for me to start shooting this film....Don't go away....I will find a way!