Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi was a well-known figure in India. There is a ‘Benazir Bhutto' who lives in Faridabad, Haryana. A lookalike of the former Pakistani Prime Minister, she has also played her character in a film and ended up being called by that name.
This woman is Renu Bhatia. Since she played the role of Benazir Bhutto to convincingly and because of her looks too, she is mostly known as ‘Benazir Bhutto’.
Renu Bhatia, a spokesperson of the Haryana BJP, is a former Deputy Mayor of Faridabad. She is also a member of the Haryana Women's Commission. Renu Bhatia has worked in many movies and also done modeling.
She hails from Srinagar, Kashmir, and she claims to be a classmate of former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. After her marriage to Om Bhatia – who passed away recently - she shifted to Faridabad.
Renu Bhatia in a scene on the film about Benazir Bhutto
On playing the character of Benazir Bhutto, Renu Bhatia says, 'On the day Benazir was murdered I got a telephone call from an unknown number. He told me about her assassination. The caller just told me that I should practice walking like her at the soonest so that you could be interviewed.”
She told Awaz-the Voice: “I felt sad to hear this news all of a sudden.
Sometimes people used to tell me that I look like Benazir. This must have gone to the media and someone might have suggested my name. That's how I got a chance to play her character.”
A team of Amar Ujala (Hindi newspaper group) from Noida, UP, reached her house. “Several media channels contacted me after my interview with picture was published on the front page of Amar Ujala the next day. After a week, a chief executive of Star News (ABP News) contacted me and requested me to play the character of Benazir. He mentioned making a documentary film of 40 minutes.” He also gave her some literature on Benazir and also her pictures. “
Renu Bhatia in real life - at work
“He told me that the shooting will start in two three days.”
Initially, the idea was to also shoot in Lahore. However, due to the strained relations with Pakistan, it didn’t happen; the shooting for the film was completed in the Delhi NCR region.
There is more common in the lives of two women – Benazir Bhutto and Renu Bhatia than their facial features.
Renu Bhatia explains, 'The producer-director of this film Vishnu Kumar would also say that my personal life was close to that of Benazir’s. Benazir was born in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and I was born in Indian Kashmir. Benazir also has 3 children; I also have two daughters and a son. My husband was also away from politics like Benazir's husband.”
One of the final scenes from the film on Benazir Bhutto
Renu Bhatia says playing the role of Benazir was a good experience and it made her popular and helped her in her political career.
She said that film was shown in 28 Muslim countries and Pakistan’s Geo TV did a lot of publicity about it during Pakistan’s general elections. Benazir’s death seemed to be a conspiracy and it worked in favour of her party that took a lead of 16 seats as results were out.
Renu Bhatia got another offer to play her character. Somehow the project did not materialize. It came from a director of Doordarshan; the film was to be about Benazir and Rajiv Gandhi. The project was dropped for political reasons.