LAHORE: After a gap of around two months, the ‘self-imposed ban’ by Pakistani film folks on the screening of Indian movies will be lifted on Monday (today).

The film being screened from today is ‘Freaky Ali’ , a 2016 romantic comedy. The cast includes Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Arbaaz Khan, and Amy Jackson.

In September, Pakistani film industry had banned screening of Indian movies in reaction to a ban on Pakistani artistes in India by Indian Motion Picture Producers Association.

Pakistan Film Producers Association Chairman Syed Noor severely criticised the re-introduction of Indian movies.

“It’s a commercial move devoid of any patriotism. When the government has officially banned the Indian content why are the exhibitors not realising this fact. There is no uniform policy. I want to know who put a ban on the screening of Indian movies and who lifted it,” he said.

Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association Chairman Zoraiz Lashari confirmed that the Indian films would be screening from today. “It’s a unanimous decision made with the consent of other exhibitors and film stakeholders.”

According to film circles, the cinema owners across Pakistan have suffered about Rs150 million loss and some 100 employees lost their jobs since the non-screening of Indian movies.

Film director Shehzad Rafique was of the opinion that Indian films should be exhibited. He regretted that the recently released Pakistani movies, including his own ‘Salute’, didn’t elicit a good response from the public. “In my opinion the box office should not close down.”

Rafique said it seemed the Pakistani film audience had decided that they would not watch local movies. “The recently released movies had all elements. ‘Blind Love’ was a commercial movie; ‘Salute’ depicted patriotism; there were films on social subjects too but the public’s response was disappointing.”

Filmmaker, actor and director Javed Sheikh said: “It’s very simple. Whichever film would have potential either Indian or Pakistani, it would get shows at cinemas.”

He said among the recently exhibited films ‘Actor in Law’ was given 16 shows in Karachi and ‘Janan’ got 12.

“Karachi film industry is producing quality movies. I am working on my new film ‘Wajood.’ I won’t mind if any big banner Indian film is screened against mine,” Sheikh said.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2016

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