A group of Indian cinemas said Friday they would not screen any films featuring Pakistani artists in protest at an attack by suspected militants that killed 19 Indian soldiers in Kashmir.
“It doesn't matter if they are Pakistani artists, Pakistani music directors or Pakistani directors. From now on we will not release their films,” said Nitin Datar, chairman of India's Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association (COEA).
The ban applies to single screen cinemas in four states -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka -- and not big multiplexes, which tend to be frequented by India's more affluent.
Mumbai-based film trade analyst Akshaye Rathi told AFP that he expected the ban to affect between 300 and 350 movie theatres.
The move comes as Hindu nationalist groups pile pressure on the makers of upcoming release “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” to drop a Pakistani artist from the romantic drama.
The Karan Johar-directed movie -- which stars former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor -- features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
Following the militant attack, the fringe but noisy right-wing group Maharashtra Navnirman Sena called for a ban on Pakistani artists in Indian films.
It also threatened to stall the October 28 release of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”.
The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association, which represents a number of Hindi film industry employees, last month passed a motion banning Pakistani artists until relations between India and Pakistan improve.
Tensions between the nuclear-armed states are high due to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, which both claim as their own.