Actress Kalki Koechlin on Friday said working on Azmaish, a documentary for which she collaborated with Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar, enabled her to see a more human aspect of the neighbouring country.
Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2017 here on Friday, Kalki said the documentary looks at India and Pakistan outside the context of conflict, and instead focuses on the struggles of commoners in both the countries.
Asked what drew her to the project, she said: "I think my neutrality on the subject, that I didn't have a particularly strong standpoint on the whole India-Pakistan issue, is something that must have tempted Sabiha.
"From my point of view, I accepted the project out of curiosity. I had never been to Pakistan and I only knew India and Pakistan in terms of conflicts. I wanted to see another aspect, perhaps, a more human aspect."
Talking about the human aspect she experienced in Pakistan, the Indian actress of French descent said: "Once you remove ideologies, you start seeing the people and their struggles. Pakistanis are as terrified of their terrorism as anyone else in the world."
Kalki said she also saw India through new eyes while travelling with Sabiha, who was due to be at the Conclave too, but couldn't make it.
"In places like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, I could draw so many similarities between the rural parts of Pakistan in terms of the conservative way to look at women who are voiceless. I also saw how power and religion work closely with each other," she said.
Did something about Pakistan surprise her?
"A lot of things surprised me. One thing that I loved was their curiosity because there's very little outside influence in Pakistan vis-a-vis India. The openness with which they met me was very surprising," she said.
Elaborating with an example, Kalki said: "In the documentary, we had set up a fashion show. Hundreds of men had come to watch the show. We asked these men what they thought about their Pakistani women being models. They said they were happy to see them.
"When we asked how they would like it if their wives were doing this, they said their leaders will slit their throats. It was said in a tone which meant things were not going to change."
Kalki is happy things are not the same in India.
At the session, some portion of the documentary was screened.