'India forced Pakistan to halt Bollywood film screenings'

KARACHI: The deterioration of bi-lateral ties between India and Pakistan is often followed by a halt in cultural and sports exchanges.

The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) passed a resolution banning “Pakistani actors and technicians in India till normalcy returns”.

Pakistani cinemas, in response to the Indian body’s decision, stopped screening of Bollywood films.

“The local cinemas had no such intention, but were forced to do so by their counterparts across the border,” revealed Mandwiwala Enternmaint Cheif Executive Nadeem Mandviwala.

“There were a lot of voices there [in India] seeking a ban on such a cultural exchange. We were left with no option but to reciprocate IMPPA after it endorsed them with the ban. As a trade counterpart we had to respond,” said Mandviwala while speaking to Amber Shamsi on Dawn News’ programme News Wise.

To a question regarding whether this will have an adverse affect on the cinema business, Mandviwala replied said both sides will be at a loss.

“For 40 years, we had banned their films. But then, both countries opened doors and our actors started to work there. We wanted this interaction to continue as we had worked a lot to ensure its success.”

The owner of Atrium cinemas and Centaurus Cineplex revealed that Bollywood films take a backseat when Pakistani movies are released, giving example of the recently released Katrina Kaif starrer ‘Baar Baar Dekho’.

“The film was released just three days before this Eid. We reduced its shows to accommodate Pakistani movies.”

He added that the majority of the product for cinema houses in Pakistan is imported from India and the United States as Lollywood started to find its feet “just five years back”.

India’s hard-line party Shiv Sena’s chief Raj Thackeray had also asked to suppress Pakistan actors, saying “with a population of 1.5 billion, we don’t need them”.

However, after IMPAA’s ban, Bollywood big-guns Salman Khan and Mahesh Bhatt came forward to condemn the producers association’s decision.

Indian movies returned to Pakistani cinema houses in 2008 after a 43-year-long hiatus imposed during the 1965 war.

IPMAA has given relaxation to the projects under-development that may see Fawad Khan’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ hit the cinemas on both sides of the border.

However, the Pakistani cinema owners are yet to discuss the relaxations. “Our body plans to meet in a few days and then we will decide about the relief for the Bollywood films.”

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