KARACHI: On Dec 17 local cinema owners announced that from Dec 19 they were putting an end to the self-imposed ban they placed on the screening of Indian films at Pakistani multiplexes and single screens.
The decision was taken following a considerable drop in footfall in cinema houses in the wake of the ban. There were even reports that some screens at multiplexes had gone show-less for a few days.
On Dec 19, however, only one film was shown at a multiplex. Some harboured the notion that cinema owners were gearing up for the big Bollywood release of the season, Dangal, starring Aamir Khan. It turns out that was not the case. Dangal opened in India and internationally on Friday, Dec 23, but not in Pakistan.
This led people to surmise that there was more to the scenario than met the eye. Perhaps some official hiccup was stopping Indian films from being released. But even that does not appear to be the reason.
Talking to Dawn head of marketing Atrium Cinema, Anita Kenneth, said, “We have not received anything from them [India]. There’s no news from their side [regarding Dangal].”
This, perhaps, hints at something deeper. Aamir Khan is an extremely popular star and has a strong fan-base in Pakistan. The release of his latest project in this country would have earned him and his producers a decent amount, especially bearing in mind the kind of roaring business that Salman Khan’s Sultan did in Pakistan on Eidul Fitr.
Mohsin Yaseen, GM Marketing Cinepax said, “Cinepax is showing Indian films, you can check on its website. But as far as I know, Indian distributors have not struck a deal in Pakistan for Dangal.”
Though it is difficult to gauge the intention of Indian distributors, it has to be said that Pakistani cinema owners must have expected a big number of film lovers buying tickets in case Dangal had been released.
It remains to be seen whether their decision to end the suspension proves costly for them in the near future, because voices have been raised, such as the one by senior film-maker Syed Noor, against attaching importance to Bollywood. Noor argued:
“When there was pressure from India to ban our artists from working in their films, the month of Muharram had started. We know that films are not usually screened in Muharram in Pakistan. So these 10 days, along with the fact that there was no major film in the pipeline, gave cinema exhibitors the excuse to stop showing Indian films here. Later on they started cribbing that people were not coming to cinemas because they wanted to see Indian movies. Who are they to decide what Pakistanis want to see or not? It was the Indian producers who first imposed a ban on our artists.”
courtesy : dawn news