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Big B to dominate Pak channels

Until recently, Bollywood films could not be screened due to a 40-year-old ban.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 20:55 IST

A string of Bollywood films featuring superstar Amitabh Bachchan will be shown on television in Pakistan this month. This good will gesture is sure to fuel New Delhi and Islamabad's diplomatic ties.

Indian films are a rage in Pakistan but, until recently, could not be screened due to a 40-year-old ban. Last month, Pakistan relaxed the ban and allowed screening of two Bollywood films.

A private television channel has now lined up a 'Festival of Amitabh Bachchan' films from May 13.

"He is the biggest film star of our times and is loved by fans and audiences globally," Salman Iqbal, the president of ARY Digital Network, said in a statement on Friday.

"This is another step to help open more avenues to bridge gaps between the two countries." Last month, Bachchan had welcomed the rare screening of Indian films in Pakistan.

"We do believe we are the same culture, the same people. We are divided by a line that has put us into two different nations that cannot be removed and it should not be," he said.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence in 1947. Relations have improved since peace talks began over two years ago, but substantial differences remain.

The 63-year-old Bachchan returned to work recently after being discharged from a Mumbai hospital in December following surgery for a potentially life-threatening stomach illness.

The Big B, as he is known, was voted in a 2002 BBC Online survey as the most popular screen and stage icon of all time, ahead of Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness.

He has acted in over 150 films, playing rebels, smugglers and vigilantes in the 1970s and 1980s.