What may come as a shock to the Bollywood lovers in Pakistan, the Pakistan Film Producers Association has demanded a complete ban on the release of Indian films in the country. The debate was heated when Chaudhry Ejaz Kamran, a senior official in the PFPA, argued that when Pakistani films are not screened in India, why should they screen Indian films in Pakistan.
"We have to think seriously about this because true our distributors and exhibitors make money from screening Indian films but in the long run it is hurting the growth of our industry," Kamran told PTI.
It is not the first time when Indian films have been banned in Pakistan. But what catches the attention is that the demand is of banning complete Indian films, also at a time when in recent months a number of Indian films have been barred from screening in Pakistani cinema houses due to various reasons.
The recent Indian films that could not make its way to Pakistani theatres include Padman, Veere Di Wedding, Mulk, and Raazi, among others.
Kamran said the PFPA has sent a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, asking him to issue necessary directives for a final decision in this matter. He said the association believes that, for the sake of our local film industry, the government should impose the ban.
"If this ban is not imposed, then the local cinema owners will continue to give preference to Indian films which in turn is hurting our industry."
He also exclaimed that because the cinema owners gave proper slots to Pakistani films for screening, they did a good business on Eid. Kamran reflected, “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.”
A petition for a ban against Indian films has also been submitted to Lahore High Court. Reacting to the PFPA's move, a well-known film distributor and exhibitor who has stakes in digital cineplexes in the country said if Indian films were completely banned it would be a step backward for the industry.
"The truth is Indian films help cinema owners make good revenues and recover costs as well. The last time Indian films were banned the cinema owners suffered big losses and the industry also faltered," he said. "Such a ban will discourage investors and disturb the business," he warned.
A senior member of the Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association said an appropriate solution would be about giving priority to local films, if they were good enough, instead of banning Indian films.