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Chivas, cigars offered to Musharraf to appear in Bhutto film

world Updated: Dec 21, 2010 15:06 IST

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The makers of an acclaimed documentary on slain Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto claim they had to resort to "much flattery", a bottle of Chivas and Cuban cigars to get former President Pervez Musharraf to do a short interview for the film.

"Convincing Benazir's political rival General Pervez Musharraf to appear on film was not easy. The effort took a respectful letter, followed by a bottle of Chivas Regal and Cuban cigars delivered to his hotel suite in Philadelphia, where he was speaking on a tour of the US to rehabilitate his image," Duane Baughman and Mark Siegel, the director and producer of the film respectively, wrote in an article for Foreign Policy.

"With much flattery and a bit of arm-twisting, we were able to elicit a short interview and took the opportunity to ask some tough questions. Gen Musharraf's appearance in the film provoked a surprise visit from his son Bilal the following year at the Sundance Film Festival," the duo wrote.

Their documentary Bhutto is currently playing in theatres across the US. The film was released in Pakistan earlier this year.

Bilal Musharraf, who lives in the US, accused the filmmakers of defaming his father. "...he (Bilal) stood at the back of a packed theater, veins bulging in anger, and accused us of smearing his father's good name to build up Benazir. The audience was stunned and fell completely silent. We suggested to Musharraf that it wasn't so much the film but history and public opinion that takes a dim view of military dictators," the filmmakers wrote.

Pakistan will observe the third anniversary of Bhutto's assassination on December 27. The two-time former premier was killed by a suicide attacker shortly after addressing an election rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Siegel was Bhutto's friend and speech writer for 25 years and co-authored her last book Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West. Baughman is the founder of San Francisco-based Yellow Pad Productions.