Actor Rohit Bose Roy, who played a Pakistani Army officer in the recent short film 'Verses of War', says empathy is the need of the hour.
The story of the film revolves around two army officers of India and Pakistan in the backdrop of war.
Rohit told IANS: "Well, we all know that there is a stereotypical way of playing a Pakistani army officer in Indian films that we have seen so far, but those portrayals were also related to the story of those films. This is a unique story. And I am glad that I am playing a Pakistani officer. Playing such a role, breaking the stereotype is a challenge but that drives an actor too.
"My challenge was to make the audience hate my character in the beginning, and eventually fall in love with him. I would say I will feel upset if this story does not touch the heart of the people. Being empathetic and understanding the other side of the border is one of the ways to stop the war.
"You see, a Pakistani army officer is also fighting for his motherland ... he is also serving his nation. So, for a moment if we stop and instead of the darkness of hatred if we are just empathetic, we can change our approach towards war and the real peace process can be started."
Considering that the political relationship between India and Pakistan has always been complicated, the current socio-political scenario made it more polarised. Asked about the relevance of a story like 'Verses of War' and the possibility that a fearless expression of an opinion can be curtailed, Rohit emphasised that the power of words must be tempered with responsibility.
Rohit said in the course of his conversation with IANS: "I would say that our film is relevant at any time, it is quite a timeless story. The core message of this film is to be empathetic towards the people you call enemies because they are also human beings. It can be an important message in any era, not just the present time. When it comes to opinions that at times create polarisation, I believe that having an opinion and airing it all the time that could spread negativity are two different things."
He added: "Don't get me wrong, I believe in critical nuanced opinion, but the way it is expressed does create an impact. For example, if we look at an overweight man and fat-shame him, we are not adding any value to anything but rather creating negativity.
"Through conversation, we can nudge the person to a healthy lifestyle. Of course, every individual can have differences in opinion but when it comes to polarising a society based on opinion, I believe that it can be stopped by looking at things with empathy."
'Verses of War', directed by Prasad Kadam, also stars Vivek A. Oberoi and Shivaanii Rai. It is being released on the official YouTube channel of FNP Media on Republic Day.
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