Pakistani filmmaker wins award in India; denied visa to attend ceremony

Entertainment Desk

One common tale that you hear from Pakistanis who are trying to travel to India is that of visa rejection.
Indian visa authorities have very strict rules regarding Pakistani applicants, and it is not at all surprising
to get that dreaded rejection letter.

As filmmaker Mahera Omar found, even trying to attend an award
festival when your film has won an award may not count for anything.
Omar’s film The Rebel Optimist was due to receive the best documentary award in the Across the Border
category at the 7th Delhi International Film Festival 2018.

However, she was unable to travel to India to
collect her award due to a visa rejection.
She said in an interview, “The festival authorities to have tried to help me, but it is very difficult for a
Pakistani to get a visa.”

The festival was not the only reason for Omar to want to go to India. Her great-grandfather Zafar Omar
hailed from Aligarh. His house, Nili Chatri still exists in the city but has now been taken over by the
Aligarh Muslim University.

Omar stated, “I feel a sense of belonging. My ancestry is from there.”
The Rebel Optimist revolves around the life and work of urban planner and social activist Perween
Rahman, who had headed the Orangi Pilot Project before she was gunned down in Karachi in 2013.

Her efforts led to solutions to the sanitation problems of the low-income segments of the population.
Despite her visa refusal, Omar still managed to get updates from the festival venue, thanks to
technology through some Indian friends who came across in Nepal.

This allowed her to virtually
experience the festival and the exhilaration of winning an award even when she could not attend in

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