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Central & South Asia
Pakistan bans Bin Laden comedy film
Film censor fears Bollywood comedy could trigger violent reprisals from extremists.
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2010 17:21 GMT
In an unusual casting move, Pakistani actor Ali Zafar stars in the Bollywood film [Walkwater Media]

Pakistan's film censor board has banned an Indian comedy film featuring a lookalike of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Wednesday's ban had been anticipated on grounds that extremists could use it as a pretext to launch attacks.

The film was set for release in Pakistan and elsewhere on Friday.

The Hindi film, "Tere Bin Laden", which means "Without You, Bin Laden", is about a Pakistani journalist who pretends to score an interview with the elusive al-Qaeda chief after finding a look-alike. By selling his "breakthrough scoop" to news channels he hopes to increase his chances to immigrate to the US.

Pakistan's film censor board decided that because of the bin Laden connection, the movie could trigger new attacks in a nation already suffering from them, said a senior board member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He noted that the decision could be appealed.

The 57-member board is made up of members from media organisations, public representatives and religious leaders.

There were reports that the producers of the film would release it in Pakistan by just the name "Tere Bin" to downplay the focus on the al-Qaeda leader, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Although it is a Bollywood film, "Tere Bin Laden" is unusual because it stars a Pakistani actor and pop star, Ali Zafar.

It's not unprecedented for Pakistan to ban films, especially if linked to its longtime arch rival India, but the impact of such censorship is likely to be limited.

Pirated movies are easily secured in Pakistan, where there are chains of stores that specialise in them. Indian films are popular in Pakistan, although only some make it to the big screens.

Source:
Agencies
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