Akshay Kumar-starrer Baby that released this week has been banned in Pakistan. According to Pakistani media reports, the film has been banned "because it portrays a negative image of Muslims, and the negative characters in the film also have Muslim names".
The spirit of the film's team is naturally affected. Producer Bhushan Kumar says, "We are confused because the film is totally against terrorism, not against any country. We are trying to figure out what needs to be done."
Interestingly, just a few days ago, the director of the film had clarified to HT that the film is not anti-Pakistan. "Baby isn't an anti-Pakistan film. See, some elements in Pakistan can be wrong but a whole nation cannot be wrong," director Neeraj Pandey had said.
The film's lead actor, Akshay Kumar, had also emphasised that the film has "three Pakistani actors who play very important roles".
Baby joins the list of several Bollywood films that have been banned in Pakistan in recent times, despite the country having a huge audience for Indian films, and several aspiring actors wishing to work in Bollywood.
Industry experts say they aren't surprised. "In December 2013, a Pakistani court had banned all Bollywood movies as they fell in their negative list of imports. Although they relaxed this later by allowing some of our films to release, any film that has even remotely to do with terrorism or religion gets banned," says trade analyst Atul Mohan.
Recently, filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj's Haider was not cleared by Pakistan's censor board, because of 'controversial elements related to Kashmir'. Sonam Kapoor starrer Raanjhanaa (2013) was also banned in Pakistan, as Pak censor board felt that the "film portrayed an inapt image of a Muslim girl falling in love with a Hindu man."
The film's director, Aanand L Rai, had said, "Until this ban, I never even thought of Raanjhanaa as a Hindu-Muslim love story." Other banned films include Rani Mukerji's Mardaani and Salman Khan starrer Ek Tha Tiger. "Neither banning nor exhibiting films is going to change the world. Films are just a reflection of the world around us," says filmmaker Hansal Mehta.