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Pakistan welcomes Welcome in theatres

The Govt softens its stance on the screening of Indian films by allowing the release of this popular Bollywood flick.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Karachi
UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2008 04:34 PM IST

Pakistan government has shown signs of softening its stance on the long-standing ban on screening of Indian films by allowing the release of latest Bollywood blockbuster Welcome in theatres on Friday.

The release of the film has come days after a Pakistan Senate standing committee on culture had recommended to the government to allow exhibition of Indian films under a proper censorship policy.

"The government has (previously) allowed Indian films which are not shot in India and made by producers not based there. But now the government has adopted a softer stance which is a very good news for us," Nadeem Mandviwalla, a well-known distributor and exhibitor told PTI.

Mandviwalla's famous 'Nishat' cinema in the heart of Karachi also showed films 'Awarapaan' and 'Goal' when they were released and is now exhibiting Welcome. All the films have done very good business so far, he said.

"People want to see the latest movies with sellable stars. That is the reason why 'Mughal-e-Azam' and 'Taj Mahal', which were allowed by the government in 2006, did not do good business," he said.

Currently, there are three Indian movies -- Goal, Gangster and Welcome -- running in different theatres in the country.

Saadia Khan, a college student who had lined up at the 'Nishat' cinema on Thursday with a group of friends to get advance tickets for Welcome said it was good that latest Indian movies had been allowed by the government.

"When they are already available on DVDs and CDs, what is wrong in showing them on cinema. In the theatres, government and censor board can even ensure that objectionable scenes are censored," she said.

Saadia said she had already seen Welcome on a pirated print disc but wanted to see actors like Akshay Kumar and Nana Patekar on the big screen.

"Movies are supposed to be fun to watch. The quality of Indian films has improved a lot and most of their stars are household names in Pakistan. We are now waiting to see when the government allows a Shahrukh Khan-film to be released in the country," another student Asad Kaleem said.

Earlier, the Chairman of a Pakistan Senate committee on culture Zafar Iqbal had said that he had recommended to the government to allow exhibition of Indian films under a proper censorship policy.

Iqbal said this would ensure a healthy competition and revive the local film industry.

Citing the example of well-known Pakistani film Khuda ke Liye, he said "I don't think the apprehensions, that by allowing Indian films to be released, we might destroy the local industry, are true."

The Pakistan government had imposed a ban on the display of Indian films in cinema halls in 1965, although they have been freely available in the pirated market on VCDs and DVDs to a big audience.

In recent years, President Pervez Musharraf has adopted a moderate policy on the issue.

Since the last one year, number of Indian films have been released for exhibition in cinema halls and some of them have also done very good business.

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