Emotions have no boundaries and neither do relationships, which is why a film like Bajrangi Bhaijaan strikes a chord with audiences in Pakistan. Although a simple story, Kabir Khan’s film is high on emotions.
In the past, Bollywood films that dealt with contentious issues like Kashmir and agencies — films like Ek Tha Tiger, Agent Vinod, Haider and Baby- have failed to make it to cinemas in Pakistan. The fate of the well-intentioned Bajrangi Bhaijaan, however, seems to be different. The timing of the film’s release has also played a major role in its success. All shows over the five-day Eid weekend were sold out well in advance, with additional shows as early as 5:30 am being added to tackle the rush. As per reports, the film made ‘1crore and 20 lakhs on the first day of the release itself followed by ’70 lakhs on the second day, despite being stacked against strong competition from Pakistani movies.
The movie- a cross border story about an Indian man’s struggle to reunite a mute Pakistani child with her family- has also received praise from critics with Sindh censor board chairman Fakhre Alam tweeting it was “the most positive film for Pakistan that Bollywood has produced in a long time.” On the other hand, chairman of Pakistan Film Journalists Association Ather Javed Soofi told HT: “A couple of scenes, although, were edited/deleted as per the guidelines of the Pakistan Film Censor Board, but that hasn’t impacted the film’s story in any way, as that is what has helped strike a chord with all.”
The film has been cleared by all provincial censor boards as well as the federal one and is being screened in cinemas across Pakistan. A Karachi-based journalist, Yusra Askari, shared the film served to undo stereotypes. “The fact that no reciprocal action was taken against Bajrangi Bhaijaan following the ban on Bin Roye in Maharashtra is also important,” Askari added.
Pakistani actress, playwright and founder of Ajoka Theatre, Madeeha Gauhar, said, “Having done plays on Indo-Pak ties for the past three decades, I believe it is a wonderful step on behalf of the Indian cinema to make a film on these lines. I am glad a superstar like Salman Khan chose to be part of it as it only helps to reach out to a larger audience in Pakistan.”
Tickets being sold in black at cinemas
“It is house-full at all theatres, big or small, and one can actually see people fighting amongst themselves outside cinemas here over tickets, like never before,” informed Jawed Iqbal of Aaj Tak TV, Pakistan.
Sources said tickets were being sold in black at cinemas. Ain-ul-Abideen from Lahore feels the ‘message of unity over the divide is exceptional.’ Emphasising on the cinematic angle, Romana Ahmed, a Karachi-based lawyer, said, “There is a growing potential in Pakistan cinema but ultimately the Indian cinematography, seamlessness, and yes glamour of the production makes for a more entertaining and cohesive couple of hours than most PK productions, which show promise but are not quite 'there' yet.”
“I think cinema is truly a more effective way of reaching the hearts and minds of citizens in both countries, in a way that government 'talks' will not achieve,” she added.
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