Amid the ongoing political tension between India and Pakistan, post-Uri attacks, Pakistan has finally decided to lift their self-imposed ban on the release of Indian movies in their theatres. The ban that lasted for almost three months, led to major revenue losses for theatre owners, film distributors, and exhibitors in Pakistan. Bollywood movies are eagerly awaited by Pakistani, which has led to a sharp decline in ticket sales bruising the whole film industry. Even though the ban is apparently lifted, the Pakistan government has yet not given clearance on releasing latest Indian films. Left with no options and support, the theatres have commenced playing old Bollywood movies to the public.
Pahlaj Nihalani, Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, states that Pakistan was left with no choice but to lift this ban because they were facing major economic losses. “Pakistani exhibitors can only get revenue that they require from the Indian cinema because the local channels and local movies are not up to the standard of the good people. This ban was lifted only from the point of view of generating revenues; theatres were not drawing many audiences. Even though the ban is lifted, the government yet needs to clear the new movies so they can be released; hence they are still playing old movies.”
Censor Chief also added, “First of all, Pakistan has banned Indian films and channels in their country. Exhibitors are already playing the Bollywood movies that were approved by the local authorities even now. But they are not allowing new movies to through the censor, nor are they letting them release the films because they still haven’t got the NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the government. So they were news that Pakistani government has lifted the ban but they have not actually lifted the ban so far.”
Pahlaj Nihalani is of the opinion that casting any Pakistani actor in Indian movies is not acceptable under the current conditions and he also believes that India is very talented and doesn’t need to rely on actors from any other country, “We have a lot of talent in every village in India. Why are we not picking up the talent from these villages? All natural talent is there. Why are we after Pakistani artists when our relations is not good with Pakistan?”
When asked if India will continue with the ban he clearly said that nation’s pride comes first before anything else, “It’s not that India doesn’t want to continue with the cultural exchange but nation comes first then culture. Our first duty is to look after the interest of the nation. Pakistan is not looking after its people nor are they looking after other aspects. We are not continuing the ban, they started the terrorism, they let go their own people chance to work here. They stopped Indian television programs there and in the same way, they stopped Indian films from released there. They are continuing with terrorist activities across the border; they are killing the innocent people. We can sacrifice our revenue but we can never sacrifice the pride of our nation.”
India’s censor board chairman strongly says that no initiative will be taken by India unless Pakistan makes a sincere effort in to improve the diplomatic relationship between the two nations and restores normalcy at the border. “In order to end our ban, Pakistan needs to first clean up the mess it has created on the border. Our Prime Minister himself visited them breaking all the protocols; they are still not realising how we are warm as well and how we always give them a chance to come forward and take a step. But they are always backstabbing and always created issues.”