Pakistani cinemas end ban on Bollywood films

Cinema owners to allow screenings of Indian films again, months after ban was imposed during Kashmir tensions.

    Bollywood films and actors are hugely popular and household names in Pakistan [Reuters]
    Bollywood films and actors are hugely popular and household names in Pakistan [Reuters]

    Cinema owners in Pakistan will again allow screening of Bollywood films nearly four months after imposing a ban on movies from across the border over military tensions linked to the disputed Kashmir region.

    "It is step for peace and harmony," Nadeem Mandviwala, head of Karachi-based Atrium Cinemas, told Al Jazeera.

    The suspension of Bollywood screenings was part of a series of tit-for-tat measures after an attack on an army post in Indian-administered Kashmir in September left 19 Indian soldiers dead.

    The measure came after Bollywood producers banned Pakistani artists in Indian films.

    "If you ask people in both countries, they will say 'yes' to trade despite hostilities. We need to defeat the agenda of extremists in both the countries," Mandviwala said.

    We need to defeat the agenda of extremists in both the countries

    Nadeem Mandviwala, head of Atrium cinemas

    He admitted that financial considerations also motivated the lifting of the ban as cinema owners made losses.

    "The Bollywood films were anyway being watched illegitimately through DVDs and internet," he said.

    Prior to the ban, Indian films were screened in a majority of cinemas in Pakistan. Bollywood films and actors are hugely popular and household names in Pakistan, while Pakistani singing and acting talent are widely appreciated in India.

    Following the attack, Indian filmmakers banned Pakistani artists from starring in Bollywood films.

    New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain seven decades ago, two of them over Kashmir. Following the 1965 war, Indian films were banned in Pakistan for 43 years until the ban was lifted in 2008.

    Nationalistic fervour

    Inside Story - Why is art being dragged into Kashmir conflict? (24:55)

    New Delhi carried out retaliatory strikes after the September attack on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control - the de-facto border - that runs through Kashmir. The raids against alleged "terrorist units" prompted anger in Pakistan and an upsurge in cross-border shootings.

    Pakistani series, which are very popular in India, also became the casualty of the nationalistic fervour gripping the subcontinent as they were taken off air across the border.

    Bollywood filmmakers have faced protests from Hindu nationalists, who have vowed not to allow films with Pakistani artists to be screened amid military tensions.

    A leading filmmaker, Karan Johar, was forced to pledge that he would not work with Pakistani artists in the future before his film, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, was allowed to run.

    Posters showing Bollywood actors at a roadside shop in Islamabad, Pakistan [AP]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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