[Sameera Aziz being presented the award by Union Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya and Telangana's Deputy Chief Minister Mohammed Mehmood Ali]
Hyderabad: Sameera Aziz, the first Saudi filmmaker in Bollywood, wants the world to know about Saudi Arabia and is currently in India working on pre-production of 'Reem', her maiden Bollywood venture.
"My aim is to introduce Saudi Arabia to the outside world. Saudi Arabia is a hidden society. They have not come out and told the world about themselves and this created misconceptions," Sameera told IANS in an interview.
'Reem' is the story of a Saudi girl who comes to India in search of her mother. "The story is about the challenges she faces in India whose culture is a new experience for her. Whether she finds her mother and love in India is something which you have to watch out," she said.
Sameera Aziz, 35, journalist, Urdu writer, novelist, poetess and activist, is the director, producer and writer of the movie, which she plans to release worldwide by the end of next year.
She took up filmmaking as she believes it is the most powerful medium of 21st century and this will help her introduce Saudi Arabia to the world.
Sameera, who has written the script, has been coming to India for the last three years for pre-production work.
"This a true story which I came across during my journalistic career. I want to give a message of peace and love through this film and show Saudi Arabia to the world because people don't know much except the holy cities of Makkah and Madina," she said.
It's not lost and found story. "The story is powerful and with all twists and turns surprise the audience and engage them," she said.
'Reem' will be a complete commercial film with all Bollywood elements. It will also have an item song, which will be belly dance. It also features a ghazal written by her.
Sameera Aziz Productions, formed by her, will finance the film along with some financiers from Bollywood.
She has already finalised the Saudi cast for the film and plans to soon announce the Bollywood actors for the movie.
Sameera, who has learnt filmmaking from experienced British and American filmmakers, feels working in Bollywood is easy.
"There is no film industry in Saudi Arabia. It's difficult to work because there is no trained manpower, equipment or atmosphere. I also used to feel embarrassed because I was the only woman. Working there was tough as one person had to handle several works simultaneously," said Sameera who worked on five projects in Saudi Arabia.
"When I came to Bollywood I found everything is organised. People are totally professional and qualified. I found working here is easy," she said.
About her film projects in Saudi Arabia, she said they were all about human and women's rights.
Also an activist, Sameera is fighting for women's rights, especially taking up the cases of NRI women who are victims of domestic violence.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)