KARACHI: The fate of every film released in Pakistan, or anywhere in the world, is first decided by the national censor boards that deem it fit to be screened across cinemas in the country. When the official trailer for Sarabjit was first unveiled, Bollywood fans on this side of the border held their breaths and crossed their fingers, knowing that it was going to take a miracle for the Aishwariya Rai and Randeep Hooda-starrer to be cleared for release in Pakistan.
It has been a week since the Omung Kumar directorial hit the screens across India. While the movie may have garnered universal acclaim within the first few days of its release, chances are that the film may never grace Pakistani cinemas. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) Chairman Mobashir Hasan confirmed the rumors surrounding the film’s release in Pakistan. “Up till now, no major distribution company in the country has approached the information ministry for an import authorisation [for Sarabjit],” he said. According to Hasan, once a distribution company approaches the information ministry requesting import authorisation, the latter asks the CBFC to provide a content analysis of the film. “The CBFC then gives their comments on the film following which the information ministry tells the Ministry of Commerce whether or not the film can be cleared for import.”
Don’t fear backlash from Pakistan: ‘Sarbjit’ director
Although the movie is yet to be viewed by local censor boards, sources revealed that it was highly unlikely that the film would have been approved for release given it was very “anti-Pakistan”. Based on the life of Indian national, Sarabjit Singh (Randeep Hooda), who was convicted of terrorism charges for a series of bomb blasts in Lahore and Faisalabad, the movie revolves around the story his sister, Dalbir Kaur (Aishwariya Rai Bachchan), as she attempts to clear his name.
When approached for comment on the issue, the representative of a local distribution company said that Sarabjit’s controversial content was not the only reason why the movie had received no bids from importers. “Controversy aside, the movie didn’t have any box office pedigree,” he remarked, requesting anonymity. “Distributors usually identify the films they want to import at the start of the year and looking at it from a commercial standpoint; I don’t think people are interested in such stories at the moment.” He further added that films with questionable content make risky investments that can result in financial loss for importers. “Even local audiences are against such movies. If the censor boards deem the movie unfit for release then your investment is either stuck or goes entirely to waste.”
Footprint (Pvt) Ltd General Manager Mirza Saad Baig also agreed that the decision to clear an international film for release was taken on commercial grounds. “With movies like Housefull 3 releasing in the same window, it would have been very difficult for Sarabjit to do well at the box office,” he said.
On the other hand, Mandviwalla Entertainment Managing Director Nadeem Mandviwalla felt that there was no need to blow the issue out of proportion. “There are thousands of films like this made against Pakistan in the West and we don’t import them here,” he remarked. “If a movie has no audience, why take an undue risk by importing it?”
Courtesy : Express Tribune