Islamabad: Pakistani singer-actor Ali Zafar, who has made it big with his debut film `Tere Bin Laden`, was kidnapped in his hometown of Lahore two years ago by persons who might have been members of the militant groups that the film takes a dig at.
Zafar, who had taken his wife Aisha (then his fiance) for dinner, was kidnapped at gunpoint and released only after his family agreed to part with Rs 2.5 million.
The incident went largely unnoticed at the time because Zafar chose not to speak to the media about it. The kidnapper made Zafar drive around Lahore for three hours till the money was arranged and delivered.
Zafar, who not only drove but persuaded his family on the phone to pay the ransom, had to get out of his car at Chauburji in Lahore and allow the kidnapper to drive away with the money. He later contacted police, who registered a complaint and found his car abandoned near the Data Darbar shrine.
In a TV interview months later, Zafar said the kidnapper told him that he would not harm his girlfriend. "Hamare ghar mein bhi maan-behnen hain (Even we have mother and sister at home)," the kidnapper told star.
Zafar is currently in the news on both sides of the border. While India`s stingiest critics have commended his performance, Pakistanis have been deprived of seeing his film following a ban by the country`s censor board.
`Tere Bin Laden` has not been cleared for exhibition in Pakistan because of fears about terrorist attacks and objections to its contents. The film is a tongue-in-cheek comedy about an ambitious reporter from Karachi who is desperate to migrate to the US and pursue the American dream.
His repeated attempts to immigrate are shot down as he is not granted a visa by American authorities.
The reporter then comes across a bin Laden lookalike and hatches a scheme to produce a fake video of the Al Qaida leader and sell it to news channels as a breakthrough scoop. Unfortunately, there are serious ramifications for the reporter as the White House gets involved and dispatches an overzealous secret agent on his trail.
Zafar has been keeping his fans updated on his official Facebook page about his efforts to get the film cleared by the censors.
"Have put an appeal to the PM and the President. Hoping they would understand the nature of the humour and let the people of Pakistan watch this hilarious flick being loved all over (the) globe," Zafar wrote on the social networking website.
He asked Pakistanis to be patient and not download the pirated version of the film. "Everyone in Pakistan, please don`t download or watch the pirated version. I have tried very hard to bring it to Pakistan. Will hopefully have some news by tomorrow. Just hold on till this weekend!" he posted.