(L-R) Screen shots from upcoming local productions : Shan in “Waar”, Aamina Sheikh in “Josh” and Ahsan Khan and Meera in Ishq Khuda.
Distributors and exhibitors in Pakistan have abandoned Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Chennai Express’ and Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai – 2′. Both were slated to release on the day of Eid, August 8, in the country. The reason being cited is that Pakistani filmmakers want four of their films- ‘Josh’, ‘Ishq Khuda’, ‘Waar’ and ‘Mein Huun Shahid Afridi’ - to get more visibility than the Indian films.
Leading distributor Abdul Rashid, who controls a large section of the distribution chain across the border, and has been in touch with the producers of Chennai Express and Once Upon…, UTV and Balaji, respectively, communicated the decision to the two production houses.
Expressing disappointment with the developments, a source said, “Theatres in Pakistan generate maximum revenue from Hindi films. So it is really sad that this time, they did a volteface. UTV and Balaji tried reasoning with the filmmakers, but to no avail.”
According to trade sources, Pakistan’s blackout of these two films will lead to an estimated loss to the tune of Rs 20 crore. When contacted, Abdul Rashid told TOI, “Yes, we are not releasing Chennai Express and Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai – 2 in Pakistan. Our government wants to protect the interests of the Pakistan film fraternity.”
He also added, “We don’t mind rescheduling the two films to August 15. But piracy would have reduced the business prospects of the two films by then.” Admitting that exhibitors would stand to gain by accommodating the two big-ticket films, Rashid however said, “We cannot overrule our government’s decision.”
Neither UTV nor Balaji were willing to comment on the development.