Raees and Kaabil may become the first Indian movies to be screened in Pakistan after the government lifts the four-months-long ban on the screening of Bollywood movies in the country, following Indo-Pak tensions.
The suspension of the screenings of Indian films came after several Bollywood producers banned casting Pakistani artists in Indian movies in the wake of Uri terror attack and ‘surgical strikes’ conducted by the Indian Army on terror launch pads along the LoC in Kashmir.
Though, it became evident that Pakistani cinema owners might not be able to sustain losses as local film industry was still in the nascent stage and unable to create revenues.
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The cinema owners started lobbying the government to go soft on Indian films, prompting the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to set up a committee last week to consult all stake holders.
According to sources in the information ministry, the committee led by Minister of State for Information Maryam Aurangzeb and Sharif’s advisor Irfan Siddiqui has made the recommendations to the PM’s Secretariat to lift the ban.
The committee urged the government to revert the ban and allow the screening of Indian films, they said.
Once formally allowed by the Prime Minister, the information ministry will issue a letter allowing the import of Indian films.
It is believed that ‘Raees’ and ‘Kaabil’ are likely to be the first films to be screened after the lifting of ban.
Shah Rukh Khan starer Raees also feature Pakistani artist Mahira Khan, while Hrithik Roshan plays the lead in Kaabil.
Meanwhile, cinemagoers in Pakistan are eagerly awaiting the release of Raees in the country’s cinema halls as the film releases today in India, UAE, USA and UK.
Hum Films, a subsidiary of the Hum entertainment channel, plans to release both Raees and Kaabil in Pakistan.
“We can expect that it will take at least two days after the NOC has been issued for the films to be screened. We could see the films on screen at the weekend if everything goes well,” an official at Hum Films said.
He confirmed they had purchased both films after paying advance money to distributors.
“We are anticipating the government would soon allow the screening of Indian films,” he said.
The Chairman of the Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association, Zoraiz Lashari said that once these films are released it will pave the way for regular flow of Indian movies into Pakistani cinema halls including Aamir Khan’s Dangal.
He said the federal information ministry is expected to issue the NOC for the import of Indian films while provincial censor boards will review them, adding, “there will be no change in the criteria for the release of Indian films”.