Pakistan Places Ban on Indian Cinema
Pakistan has banned Indian films as tensions between the neighboring countries are on the rise, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan-based terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack on Kashmir, according to India. The two countries have fought three wars over this territory since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. The attack killed 40 Indian soldiers, and as a response, the Indian government says that Indian Air Force jets bombed one of the group’s training outfits on Feb. 26.
On Feb. 27, Pakistan said it carried out air raids in Kashmir and shot down two Indian jets in Pakistani airspace.
Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s information minister, announced the next day that Pakistan’s Film Exhibitors Association would boycott Indian content.
“No Indian movies will be released in Pakistan,” Chaudhry wrote on twitter. Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has also been instructed to reject Indian television advertisements.
“In light of the prevailing situation, and in solidarity with the government, the film exhibitors fraternity has volunteered to focus on local content till the normalisation of the current situation in the region,” said Zoraiz Lashari, chairman of the Film Exhibitors Association, in a statement to Al Jazeera.
The size of the Pakistani film market is very small. In 2017, there were only 129 screens in Pakistan, and only 21 Pakistani films were released in 2018. Therefore, film trade analysts say the ban will not significantly impact India’s overall box office numbers. Meanwhile, India had 6,000 screens and certified 1,813 films. The Indian film industry also had a revenue of $2.1 billion in 2017, and is expected to hit $3.7 billion by 2020.
The ban could hurt Pakistan since experts believe Indian film proves to be an important part of Pakistani multiplexes. Some distributors and exhibitors are even saying the ban is a step back for the Pakistani film industry, which has been undergoing a revival. They claim that by showing Indian films, Pakistani cinema owners recover costs, and without Indian films Pakistan will suffer huge losses. Around 70 percent of revenue from Pakistani theaters comes from Bollywood.
India also placed its own ban following the February 14 attack on Kashmir, prohibiting Pakistani artists and actors from working in the Indian film industry.
It is unknown how long the ban Pakistan made against Indian film will last, but a previous ban on Indian films put in place by Pakistan in September 2016, also over the Kashmir dispute, was lifted four months later, in January 2017.