Pak cinema owners may lift ban on Indian films after ‘Ae Dil...’ release | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Pak cinema owners may lift ban on Indian films after ‘Ae Dil...’ release

The release of Fawad Khan’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil in India this week may help end a ban imposed by Pakistani exhibitors on the screening of Indian films, according to industry sources.

ADHMVsShivaay Updated: Oct 27, 2016 13:29 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 25, 2016 shows Pakistan actor Fawad Afzal Khan at a press conference for Hindi film ‘Kapoor & Sons’ in Mumbai.
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 25, 2016 shows Pakistan actor Fawad Afzal Khan at a press conference for Hindi film ‘Kapoor & Sons’ in Mumbai. (AFP)

The release of Fawad Khan’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil in India this week may help end a ban imposed by Pakistani exhibitors on the screening of Indian films, according to industry sources.

The self-imposed ban on Indian movies was to have been lifted this week but last-minute developments, including a terror attack in Quetta that killed 60 people and was blamed by some in Pakistan on Indian elements, led to the postponement of a decision.

Industry sources confirmed that local exhibitors are suffering heavy losses because of the ban that was imposed after the Indian Motion Pictures Artists Association (IMPAA) barred Pakistani actors and technicians from working in Indian films.

Film writer Hasan Zaidi said revenue from Indian films accounted for between 60% and 75% of box office revenues in Pakistan over the past three years. “For every 100 rupees earned by cinema owners, 60 to 75 rupees have been earned from Indian films. This is simply a function of the volume of Indian films being released,” he said.

In such a situation, there is immense pressure on cinemas to resume screening Indian movies. It is believed distributors and cinema owners from across Pakistan met last week to discuss the fate of their businesses following the ban on Indian films.

The Express Tribune reported it was decided that another meeting would be held on October 25 with Pakistani Exhibitors and Distributors Association chairman Zoraiz Lashari to announce the lifting of the ban. But after the terror attack in Quetta, a decision was delayed, sources said.

The newspaper reported that the ban would be lifted in the coming week. Lashari told the media on Wednesday, “Our basic demand was (the) lifting of the ban on Pakistani actors working in India and the Indian authorities have done that. Even Fawad Khan’s film is all set to be released in India on time, which is why we are looking forward to a more positive outcome of this entire scenario.”

Under a deal brokered by the Maharashtra chief minister, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena withdrew its objections to the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil after the film’s makers agreed to pay Rs 5 crore to the Indian Army’s welfare fund to end a controversy over the casting of Fawad Khan.

Pakistani cinema owners have said their ban was only a response to the Indian film industry’s actions and because Pakistan’s “honour” was at stake after actors such as Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan and Ali Zafar were forced to return from India.

Lashari said there was also a possibility of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Ajay Devgan’s Shivaay being screened in Pakistan soon as the films had been issued “no objection certificates” by the government.

Nadeem Mandviwalla, owner of Karachi’s Atrium cinema and Islamabad’s Centaurus cinema, said he could not comment on the matter but added he was hopeful of a quick resolution.

Zaidi linked the revenue from Indian movies to the rebirth of the Pakistani film industry. Since 2011 - when Pakistan’s first multiplexes were set up – the revenue from Indian films had grown by 24% to 31% annually, he said.

This year has been comparatively weak in terms of financials and the highest earning film in Pakistan was Salman Khan’s Sultan, which raked in Rs 34 crore. No Pakistani film has come close to it in terms of earnings.

Most new Pakistani films have been financed by cinema owners and distributors, whose fortunes have been boosted by the import of Indian movies after former military ruler Pervez Musharraf removed an official ban in 2006. That ban was imposed after the 1965 war.