LHORE, Sept 24: The management of the PAF Cinema in the Cantonment area says it has suffered big financial losses after a ban was imposed on running of ‘Indian’ films here.
“The cinema is closed since Sept 7,” Nadir Latif, the manager at the PAF Cinema, told Dawn on Monday. The order read: “You are hereby directed to stop screening of Indian films in the PAF Cinema, Lahore, with immediate effect.”
The PAF contracts out the cinema to private parties on a 10-yearly basis.
Mr Nadir Latif says he took over the management of the cinema house some two and half years ago and since then around Rs20 million were spent on its renovation. The improvements were carried out keeping in mind a certain, middle-class audience which demands quality films. The argument is that with the Pakistani film industry in a doldrums, the ventures which have been prohibited were the cinema’s only hope of some returns on its investment.
Mr Latif has since approached the authorities in the Pakistan Air Force, seeking a relaxation in the ban. His case is based on the stated difference between an ‘Indian’ film and what is only a ‘foreign’ film of stated ‘non-Indian’ origins.
As per the current policy, movies which boast well-known names from the Indian film industry may no be treated as ‘Indian’ products but simply as ‘foreign’ films. They are treated as films made outside India and are routinely imported from Dubai. For instance, the recent release ‘Raaz 3’ was cleared by censors in Punjab as a product of the UK.
Mr Latif said he attached a letter of the Punjab Censor Board with the documents which he passed on to the PAF authorities. The letter reads: “You are humbly informed that … Punjab Film Censor Board has been screening foreign produced films (sic) all of films are imported from Dubai either English feature films or Urdu feature films. These are taken as foreign films. Punjab Films Censor Board has never screened any film imported from India or (sic) has never issued Censor Certificate to the Indian films”.
When the ban was imposed on the cinema, ‘Raz 3’ was being screened there. ‘Barfi’ was next in line followed by ‘Heroine’. “I have had to bear losses going into millions of rupees for not being allowed to show these movies,” Mr Latif said.
He wondered why the cinema was singled out for Indian films ban when these movies were being screened throughout the country, including two other cinema houses in the Lahore Cantonment.
An official of the PAF told Dawn the application of the manager of the cinema was pending. A statement could only be issued after a decision was reached on the matter.