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2008-01-27 India-Pakistan
Pakistan to allow screening of Indian films
Islamabad: Bowing to pressure by powerful film distributors, the Pakistan government has finally decided to allow "regular" screening of Indian films in the country's theatres that have been reduced to just 200 from 1,400 in the 1980s. "The proposal for approval is with Prime Minister (Muhammadmian Soomro) and a formal notification can be issued any time," a senior official in the PM's secretariat told IANS.

The official said the caretaker prime minister has yet not seen the recommendations by the standing committee of the senate (upper house of parliament) that has favoured screening of the Indian films. But the PM has been briefed on the proposal. The committee in its meeting held last week in Islamabad finalized and sent its recommendations to the PM for approval.

The film distributors in Pakistan have been lobbying for many years for the screening of Indian movies. Though they succeeded in getting approval for some of the Indian movies in the last two years, it was only on a case-to-case basis.

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"Now after the approval and signing of the documents by the prime minister there would be regular exchange of movies between the two countries," said the official requesting anonymity. He also informed that Indian movie "Welcome" has been approved by Pakistan's censor board and would be screened in cinemas soon.

The official said under the proposal, Pakistan will screen at least 12 Indian movies through local distributors and the same number of films will be sent to India. "This is all hoodwinking. If the government has to allow screening they should allow it to all," Ijaz Gul, a film critic, told IANS.

He said there were bright chances of cinema revival in Pakistan if these movies were allowed. "When the government has allowed certain Indian channels that are showing movies and serials, and also cable operators are showing latest Indian films, what's the harm in allowing the movies in cinemas? Let the people have pleasure of the big screen," Gul said.

Cable operators in Pakistan screen the latest Indian movies violating copyrights. Indian movies are also available openly on CD shops and pirated CD of a new film is available for no more than Rs.150 ($2.5) while a month old film costs Rs.100.

"This is so sad that in the whole world there are just two countries - India and Pakistan - that make movies in same language but can't screen each other's film," said Gul, adding the government welcomes all other foreign films but not the ones from India.

The number of cinema houses in Pakistan is continuously decreasing and the owners are switching to other businesses. According to Gul, in the mid 1980s there were more than 1,300 cinema houses but now the number is less than 200 because of the declining film business.

Screening of each other's movies was disallowed from September 1965 when Indian and Pakistan fought their second war.

Military ruler Gen. Zia-ul-Haq's, after his famous visit to India, allowed two India movies - "Kashish" and "Noorjehan" - to be screened in Pakistan. However, after that successive governments continued with the policy of allowing selected movies to be shown in Pakistan. "Mughal-e-Azam" screened in Pakistan in 2005 was a big hit and people thronged to the cinema houses after a long time. The government itself, under instructions from President Pervez Musharraf, approached Akbar Asif, son of the deceased producer to screen the film.

Gul, said it was the time both the countries could go for joint production. "There is no comparison of Pakistani and Indian cinema... They (Indians) are far ahead of us, yet we can offer them some quality music, lyrics and literature," he said arguing for more and more joint ventures.
Posted by john frum 2008-01-27 09:25|| E-Mail|| Front Page|| [6470 views ]  Top

#1 This is so sad that in the whole world there are just two countries - India and Pakistan - that make movies in same language but can't screen each other's film," said Gul

Actually there is no ban on Pakistani films in India. The distributors don't take them up because they are not particularly good.
Posted by john frum 2008-01-27 09:33||   2008-01-27 09:33|| Front Page Top

#2 Hooray for Bollywood, . . .
Posted by Mike 2008-01-27 21:34||   2008-01-27 21:34|| Front Page Top

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