Pakistan has removed an India-specific restriction from its film censorship rules, opening the way for Pakistani filmmakers to engage Indian actors.
Through a notification issued on June 5, the Ministry of Culture announced four amendments to the Censorship of Film Rules, 1980. One of them removes the India-specific restriction of Paragraph 5.
A Pakistani filmmaker is supposed to submit Form B to seek censorship clearance, which includes Clause 5.
"The 'notorious' Paragraph 5, a major obstacle for Pakistani filmmakers wanting to hire Indian actors, is no more," the Daily Times newspaper announced, quoting Saeed Rizvi, chairman of the Pakistan Film Producers Association (PFPA).
"This clause was a legislative order, which stopped filmmakers from proceeding towards Indian frontiers with possible ventures for the industry," Rizvi said.
When enforced, the amended law would make the exchange reciprocal among the film industries of the two countries that were one till India's partition in 1947.
Numerous Pakistani artistes have been working in Indian films over the years, though many of them faced prosecution and criticism back home.
The Censorship of Film Rules, 1980, were enacted during the regime of then President Zia-ul Haq after the local film industry petitioned to him for protection from Indian competition. It suited Zia's political scheme of protecting the country from India's "cultural invasion" and promoting "Nizam-e-Mustafa" (the Rule of God).
Zia did make exceptions in allowing a few Indian films to be screened, and facilitated the release of Taj Mahal produced by Sheikh Mukhtar, a one-time Bollywood action hero. But he extended protection to the indigenous film industry, even as piracy of films from India thrived.
Rizvi said, "Basically it stopped us from taking in Indian actors. It was introduced along with the Censorship of Film Rules 1980 and it mentioned, 'that the film has neither been wholly or partially exposed in any Pakistani or Indian language depicting Pakistani or Indian way of living."
"This was very confusing for filmmakers because it not only stopped us from hiring Indian actors; it also stopped us from including Pakistani actors for our movies. We were very perturbed by this clause. But now the government has repealed it, and we are more than happy," he said.