PAKISTAN BIGGER LOSER IN BOLLYWOOD BAN
Cinemas in the neighbouring country run empty without Hindi films
What’s common to Naam Shabana, Jolly LLB 2, Raees, Ek Tha Tiger and Raanjhanaa? All these films weren’t released in Pakistan — mainly because they were banned. The latest one to be banned is Begum Jaan, starring Vidya Balan (right), as Pakistan reportedly doesn’t allow the entry of any film on Partition.
Other recent films that didn’t hit Pakistani theatres include Dishoom, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Shivaay, and MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. While Pakistani audiences have always lapped up Bollywood films, of late, Hindi films have been repeatedly running into rough weather in the neighbouring country. In the past four years, over a dozen Bollywood films have been banned in Pakistan for offending some sensibility or the other — it could be a plot around terrorism, or sexuality in the film’s content.
Most notably, Aamir Khan refused to release his film Dangal in Pakistan after the authorities there demanded that he cut out scenes featuring the Indian flag and national anthem.
Pakistan is the thirdbiggest foreign market for Indian films — the industry reportedly makes around `65 crore a year from there, after the US and the United Arab Emirates. And for Pakistani theatres, Bollywood movies bring 70 per cent of their revenues.
Raees director Rahul Dholakia says that he was “really surprised” with the ban on his film. “I’m sure Pakistani fans wanted to watch Shah Rukh Khan and Mahira Khan. It’s unethical to ban any film anywhere in the world,” he says.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, “The loss is on both sides; in fact, more so in Pakistan. Their exhibitors-distributors need Bollywood films to pull in audiences.”
“The loss is way bigger on the other side. Pakistani theatres get almost 70 per cent of their revenues from Hindi films. In case of a ban, they run empty,” says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi, adding that “our armed forces and country” are “way above a marginal economic loss” for the Indian film industry.