strong class="location">LAHORE: Pakistan has seen numerous Bollywood films being banned for various reasons. Whether it was on Eid or due to a film’s content, our censor boards don’t hold back when it comes to disallowing the screening of Indian content.

Padman, Veere Di Wedding, Mulk and Raazi were among those that didn’t see the light of day in the country. Even Raees, Mahira Khan’s Bollywood debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan was banned.

Although Indian films bring in a lot of revenue for local stakeholders  (case in point: Sanju), the Pakistan Film Producers Association (PFPA) has demanded a ban on the release of all Indian films in the country.

Senior representative PFPA, Chaudhry Ejaz Kamran, told The Express Tribune, “If Indian stake holders and organisations can take a stand and do everything for the welfare of their industry, then why can’t we? They have banned our artists and films in the past so what’s stopping us?”

PFPA proceeded in writing a letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, requesting him to take the necessary steps and make a decision on the matter. The association believes that, for the sake of our local film industry, the government should impose the said ban. If this is not carried out, local cinema owners will continue to prioritise Bollywood films over local ones.

“We have struggled for the welfare of our local film industry and this is why we decided to contact Imran Khan. We are hopeful that he will listen to us and impose the ban,” shared Kamran.

PFPA has previously been active in persuading past government tenures for the implementation of the same ban. However, its efforts have not always been fruitful. Nonetheless, it continues to remain adamant as members of the association truly believe that the local film industry suffers because of the release of Indian films. They also suggest that the crisis that hit Pakistan’s film industry was because of Bollywood films infiltrating theatres across the nation. A petition for a ban against Indian films has been submitted to Lahore High Court.

“We are lucky enough to be in a position to make such bold requests for the well-being of local films. It is great to see that the business of film-making has restarted in Pakistan and we should do everything we can to support this. The last six years have proved that we are more than capable of holding our own.”

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan has two groups of people, in terms of audiences. While there are many in favour of local films, others prefer Indian ones. The latter also include stakeholders of digital cinemas within Pakistan and according to them, a ban on Bollywood movies will disturb their business and discourage investors, resulting in decreasing revenue. Therefore, they disagree with the ban and oppose PFPA’s idea.

“PFPA should accept the reality and instead of writing letters to Imran Khan, they should take positive steps for the revival of the industry and the production of more films,” stated a senior member of the Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association. “There are various senior film producers within PFPA that no longer work and it’s funny to see them demand bans when they can’t even produce ten films a year. They have to understand that Bollywood films have a massive viewership and this brings in a lot of revenue.”

Keeping everyone in mind, Kamran explains how they have provided two options for the authorities to choose from. “We have given a choice of two possibilities: Either they impose a complete ban on Indian films, or they make an active effort in prioritising local content. The latter entails increased promotion of local films as well as more screen time and shows within cinema halls.”

Kamran further provided that the association is planning a meeting with Khan so the members can express their concerns properly.

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Edited by Ramsha Vistro