BY DURGA CHAKRAVARTY
Mumbai, Aug 8 (IANS) After Pakistan government announced the banning of Indian films from its cinemas across the nation, members of the Indian film fraternity say it does not make any difference to India and that it is Pakistans loss.
Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Information and Broadcasting, claimed this action was in retaliation to India’s abrogation of the Constitution’s Article 370, which gave special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and allowed it to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration.
Reacting to Pakistan’s decision, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, chief advisor of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), told IANS: “It does not make any difference whether Pakistanis watch our films or not. I think the internal security of the country comes first. Whether films release there or not is irrelevant. We have a clear issue in front of us.”
He added: “Our film industry is very big. Even business wise it does not matter. We are taking about our country.”
However, trade analyst Komal Nahta told IANS that, strictly from the business point of view, the ban will affect the box-office.
“Pakistan had become a hot territory especially for big films with big star cast. Indian films did depend upon Pakistan for a fairly good amount of overseas business. Specially, (for stars like) Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, their films used to do very well there,” said Nahta.
He stressed the ban will lead to piracy in Pakistan.
“There will be piracy. It’s not that people will not watch our films. It is just that officially the money will not come to India. Pirates will make hay while the sun shine,” Nahta added.
Bollywood actor Sonu Sood, who had once done a cameo in the Pakistani film “Ishq Positive”, told IANS: “Pakistan banning Indian film is their loss not ours. But (revocation of) Article 370 is the best thing that could have happened in the last 72 years.”
National Award-winning filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, whose film “Calendar Girls” was banned in Pakistan, told IANS: “Firstly, I am not surprised because they already severed many other bilateral relationships. I am not surprised because they have to take a grand standing in front of their people because Article 370 has been abolished. The film industry has shown solidarity since Pulwama.”
“The Hindi film industry had stopped releasing films post Pulwama attack,as a show of solidarity to the defence services. This was never promoted or discussed on public platforms. The business of Indian films continues growing globally. The revocation of Article 370 was a bold and much-needed move. Any consequence arising from the decision is inconsequential ,” said actor Vidyut Jammwal, who hails from Jammu.
This is not the first time Pakistan has banned Indian films. Apart from refusing release of various Indian films regularly on grounds of censorship, Pakistan has been refusing release of Indian films — particularly Bollywood products — almost every time the political atmosphere between the two nations becomes tense.
In recent times, Pakistan has banned various Hindi films owing to different reasons. While “Raazi”, “Aiyyari”, and “Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran” are among films to have been banned owing to what Pakistan felt was politically objectionable content, “Mulk” was banned because the country’s censor board felt the film’s portrayal of Muslims in India was not right.
“Pad Man”, “Veere Di Wedding”, and “Pari” have been among other films refused a release in Pakistan even at normal times.
Talking to the media outside Parliament House on Thursday, Firdous Ashiq Awan claimed her government was making various efforts to highlight the current Kashmir situation internationally. These include consultations at the United Nations by Pakistan’s Representative Maleeha Lodhi, and contacting heads of governments of other countries, besides diplomatic engagements, reports dunyanews.tv.
Besides films, every other Indian cultural content has also been banned from Pakistan.
BY DURGA CHAKRAVARTY