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Benazir film: Zardari gives a thumbs down

The film was supposed to be co-produced by filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and Karachi-based Skies Unlimited Films.

world Updated: Mar 05, 2008 03:41 IST

Slain former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari has shot down a Bollywood proposal to make a film on the life of his wife.

The film was supposed to be co-produced by filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and Karachi-based Skies Unlimited Films with veteran actress Shabana Azmi playing Bhutto.

Bhatt, who was waiting to get the nod from Bhutto's family, was reportedly banking on Naheed Khan, the late premier's close aide, getting his proposal cleared.

Khan's sister Aneela Khan is a producer with Skies Unlimited and was to assist Bhatt on the project.

Bhatt, who planned to base the film on the revised edition of Bhutto's book Daughter of the East, wanted to sign a formal contract with Zardari for the movie rights of the book and was sure Naheed could get the clearance for him, The News reported on Tuesday.

However, Zardari told Naheed that Bhutto had signed an agreement with famous Hollywood filmmaker Robert Redford during her lifetime. Naheed's husband Safdar Abbasi too could not convince Zardari.

The report said Zardari was advised by his lawyers to not allow an Indian filmmaker to make a movie on Bhutto's life as this would have "negative consequences" for the probe into her assassination.

The lawyers reportedly pointed out that no film could be made without "answering questions about who killed Bhutto".

"A Bollywood film without the clear identification of the mastermind behind the assassination of Bhutto would only help the assassins. It is not difficult to guess who the real enemies of Bhutto are," a Pakistan People's Party lawyer told The News.

Skies Unlimited had earlier said it would rope in well-known Pakistani writer and poet Aqeel Ahmad Ruby to write the script.

In January, Aneela Khan had said: "The film is going to be released internationally and we don't want to create any controversy with this film."

"The basic motive behind this announcement (about making the movie) is just to dedicate this film to Benazir Bhutto."

Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi on December 27. She was 54.