Handloom Picture Company's Ram Subramanian has initiated the Dear Neighbour movement to improve the relations between Indians and Pakistanis.
The initiative which invites people from the two countries to post Velfies (video selfies) on its Facebook page was launched with a three-minute film titled 'Pause'. The film urged people from both sides of the border to initiate a conversation. The film compares the walls between homes to that of the wall between India and Pakistan. In the film, the protagonist is trying to write a letter, but isn't able to because of some noise generated from his neighbour, Iqbal bhai's house. This is compared to the relationship between India and Pakistan. As the protaginists shifts in his seat to retrieve a dropped pen, the video slows down showing a person seated exactly where the protagonist is, who lists out all the ways in which Indians and Pakistanis are similar. It ends with a message that reads '#DearNeighbour' and encourages people from the two countries to 'Chat Up'.
Speaking with Campaign India, Subramanian explained the concept, "If people want change, it has to begin with us. When I grew up I was taught to hate Pakistan. But, that has to change. I heard a story from my friend who travelled to Pakistan for a cricket match in 2004. He was wooed by the love showered on him by the locals in Pakistan. He wanted to return this across the border. So, I thought it was a nice idea. This (Pause) campaign started on Twitter. When the film went out, I got one response of a video from Pakistan. That’s where I got the idea of the video exchange. I’d written in a letter in the video format. She suggested a group, on Facebook, but didn't get traction. So, I then made it a page. Now, we want to invite people to exchange velfies from across the borders which are showing the real person instead of a media based thing."
He added, "Aman ki Asha is now supporting the cause. A couple of people from America are also spreading the cause. We are now looking to make it a self sustaining movement. We want to do something for the peace movement. People are ready for this, it’s just about dropping the excess baggage. I have made it creative because I want the media to grow. I want to give people a sense that their video will go viral. The next step is hopefully moving to other countries, but only after having pushed this to get a higher response."
On the response, Subramanian said, "It's been a good response with several videos posted on the Facebook page. Since, 'The Logical Indian' page has picked this movement up, they've opened entries on to their YouTube page as well and they've posted several videos too."