Ever since 26/11 mastermind and Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed sought a ban on the release of Saif Ali Khan-Katrina Kaif-starrer Phantom, Bollywood fans are going crazy with conspiracy theories. Pakistan Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) chief Fakhr-e-Alam, however, said that the decision to release a film or not is not driven by controversies and depends on the law.
"We have a clear set of laws and rules as legislated by the parliament. We have to comply with the law. (It's as) Simple as that," Fakhr-e-Alam, Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) chairman, told IANS from Karachi in an interview through social media. "Our job is not to get involved in controversies or respond to everyone and everything. We will follow the law and take decisions according to law," he added.
Phantom is a thriller inspired by Dongri To Dubai writer Hussain Zaidi's Mumbai Avengers, which is based on the aftermath of the 26/11 terror attacks in which 10 Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai from the sea in November 2008 and killed 166 Indians and foreigners. The movie, starring Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif, is directed by Kabir Khan - the filmmaker whose past project Kabul Express elicited protests from some quarters in Pakistan for reflecting the "traditional anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam mentality of India", and whose Ek Tha Tiger was banned in Pakistan following allegations that it portrays the neighbouring country's intelligence agency in a bad light.
Read: Bollywood films banned in Pakistan
However, Kabir Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan, a Salman Khan-starrer that propagates a positive message of peace, unity and brotherhood, went houseful in Pakistan despite initial hiccups in its release. After its release, Satish Anand, head honcho of Eveready Group of Companies which distributed Bajrangi Bhaijaan in the nation, had told IANS that they had faced a lot of problems in bringing the movie to screens due to its trailer and because it was from the director whose film Ek Tha Tiger never got released in the country.
Even Fakhr-e-Alam had via a Twitter account claimed he received threats for allowing the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which ended up regaling a majority of the audience with its heartwarming story about an Indian man who comes to the rescue of a lost six-year-old mute girl from Pakistan. In an earlier email interview to IANS, he had said: "There are good and bad elements everywhere in the world. There are still some who have not come to terms with the fact that the world has moved into the 21st century. The threats do not deter us...we believe in betterment and growth."
He had given the green signal to Bajrangi Bhaijaan and requested cinema owners to be more alert and vigilant in case some violence erupted. "I took the necessary precautions, but we ensured Bajrangi Bhaijaan was not disrupted. Wish Maharashtra government had done the same for Bin Roye," he said in reference to the Mahira Khan-starrer on which Maharashtra Navnirman Sena called for a statewide ban last month.
Bangistan, directed by Karan Anshuman, is known to be another Bollywood film banned in Pakistan this year. But Fakhr-e-Alam said the CBFC is the "last stop when a foreign film is imported" and that there's a process every foreign movie needs to go through before reaching the big screen in his nation.
Pakistan had banned Indian movies in 1968 but lifted this ban later. Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par is said to have been the first Indian film to make its way into Pakistan's cinema halls after the ban was lifted. Since then, a plethora of Hindi films have entertained movie buffs across the border, thawing the otherwise strained bilateral ties between the two nations.