Pakistan’s censor board officials said on Friday they had not yet previewed the film Haider amid reports that the Bollywood adaptation of Hamlet may be banned in Pakistan because of controversial sections related to Kashmir.
Zareef Abbasi, spokesperson of the Central Board of Film Censors in Pakistan, told the media the question of banning the film “does not arise” as distributors had still not presented the film to them.
“The question of banning any film or allowing its screening arises after it is presented to the board,” he said.
Pakistani distributors are adopting a wait-and-watch as they want to see how the film plays in Indian cinemas before they decide to import it as they do not want to risk the movie being banned.
While director Vishal Bhardwaj’s take on the Shakespearean tragedy set against the backdrop of sectarian strife in Kashmir may not hit Pakistani screens immediately, the country’s primary movie importer has already billed action film Bang Bang for release on Eid.
“Haider is more of an art film. It is not the movie that grosses millions,” said film critic Zulqarnain Shahid.
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The major importer for Indian films in Pakistan, Amjad Rashid of IMGC, is distributing two films over the weekend for Eid release. One is a Pakistani movie, Operation 021, while the other is Hrithik Roshan’s Bang Bang.
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Market analysts said the theme Haider touches upon makes importers wary of the movie. Pakistan’s censor board earlier banned two Indian movies – Ek Tha Tiger and Agent Vinod-- on ground that they contained anti-Pakistan material. The banning resulted in losses for the importers.
Mehmood Mandviwala of Mandviwala Entertainment, a major exhibitor, says Pakistan is now emerging as the fourth largest market for Indian movies abroad. Pakistani viewers prefer action movies and one of the biggest grossers in the country was Dhoom 3.