Bajrangi Bhaijaan has pulled down the barbed wires between India and Pakistan... no 'fence' meant.
The impact of this film is going to be far more deep and far-reaching than anyone involved with the film could've ever imagined. In a bizarre transposition of the reel into the real, a 16-year old girl named Geeta, claiming to have strayed from the Indian border to Pakistan as a child, has surfaced across the border in an exact replication of the situation in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (BB).
Making the real-life case even more bizarre is the fact that Geeta, like little Munni in BB is mute and therefore cannot elucidate her whereabouts in India.
Kabir is incredulous at the turn of events. "Except for the fact that in my film the girl strays from Pakistan to India and here in real life Geeta's journeyed in the opposite direction, everything else that is happening seems like out of my movie. I had heard how truth is stranger than fiction. But this is beyond anything Salman and I ever imagined."
Kabir Khan confesses he never imagined his film would have such impact. "We hoped that the film would reach across borders. But, to see it impact a life so far away is beyond our expectations."
The Indian girl lost in Pakistan has seen Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and that makes Kabir very happy. But Kabir says he has his misgivings about her roots. "What is heartening is that Geeta saw the film and then decided to connect with India to seek her roots. Would she actually be able to retrace her family in India after so long? I have my doubts. So many years have passe, since she stayed away from her home. Now, when she's suddenly so visible on the television channels, it is discouraging that no one from India is coming forward to claim Geeta."
Kabir is also gratified by the fact that the electronic media has been used to pitch Geeta's case in exactly the same way as shown in his film. "In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the Pakistani journalist Chand Nawaz keeps saying, 'TV pe aaoge tab hi logon ko pataa chalega'. It was when Geeta's case was televised that we got to know there is a real-life Bajrangi Bhaijaan happening."
However, Geeta's Pakistani foster-parents' contention that Geeta's story was used in the film and she must therefore be helped by the film's producers, leaves Kabir Khan unconvinced. "When my writer Vijayendra Prasadji and I decided to do Bajrangi Bhaijaan, we Googled to see if there was any such incident on either side of the border. There was no mention of any child straying across to either side of the border. Vijayendraji told us he was inspired by this Pakistani couple who brought a little girl to Chennai for heart surgery."
Now that real-life Munni has become a cause celebre across the border, Kabir feels his film is no longer a work of fiction. "When I was making Bajrangi Bhaijaan, I thought we were going into a Utopian world. But now, I realize we were actually building a very real world. Geeta coming forward is proof that our vision in the film was not impractical."
Kabir is deeply impressed by the secular upbringing imparted to Geeta in Pakistan. "Her foster parents have allowed her to pray in a temple. Geeta remains a Hindu while doing the namaaz with her foster-siblings. It is an amazing story, even more heartwarming than what we've shown in Bajrangi Bhaijaan."
Kabir is all for uniting Geeta with her relatives in India. "But where are her relatives? Where in India is she from? She points to both Jharkhand and Telangana on the map. But does she really know where she comes from? We're here to assist Geeta in finding her roots."
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