India/Pakistan: Films, actors, tv shows banned amidst Kashmir tensions

4 October 2016

In a retaliatory exchange, Pakistan banned Indian films, tv shows and channels after India banned Pakistani actors and technicians from working on Indian films, as a response to deadly attacks over Kashmir that began on 19 September 2016.

On 30 September 2016, the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) decided at an annual general meeting to ban Pakistanis in the film industry, with the organisation’s president, TP Aggarwal, stating that “no Pakistani will be hired by their producer members for ever”, reported The Guardian.

Producer and IMPPA member Ashoke Pandit stated that the organisation “paid homage to the martyrs who were killed” and thus felt a “responsibility towards the nation”. Pandit, however, stated that the ban would only be in place “till normalcy returns”.

Pakistan retaliates
In solidarity with Pakistan’s armed forces, and in response to the Indian ban, cinemas in Pakistan have stopped screening Indian films.

Pakistan’s Film Exhibitors and Distributors group issued a statement that following the IMPPA decision, “the majority stake  holders of the [Pakistani] film industry have decided to suspend the screening of all Indian films until normalcy returns”, reported Al Jazeera on 1 October 2016.

So far, major chains Atrium Cinemas, Centaurus, Cinepax, Nueplex and Super Cinemas have enacted the voluntary ban, and many have filled in their movie schedule gaps by screening classic Pakistani films, reported Dawn on 2 October 2016.

Further, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) announced an immediate ban on all Indian tv channels, adding they would take “strict action” on private channels and distribution networks who failed to comply with the ban by 15 October 2016, reported The Times of India on 1 October 2016.

UPDATE: As of 3pm on 21 October 2016, PEMRA’s official ban on all Indian content on radio and television took effect. In a statement on 19 October 2016, the authority said the federal government had authorised PEMRA to enact the ban and that violators “will have their licences suspended without a prior show cause notice” and will be prosecuted, reported Dawn on 19 October 2016.  

On 18 December 2016, Pakistani cinemas announced they would lift their self-imposed ban on Indian movies on 19 December and begin screening Bollywood films in cinemas.

According to Indian news site First Site on 1 October 2016, media mogul and chairman of Zee Entertainment, Subhash Chandra Goel, announced that his network would be pulling all Pakistani tv shows from its Zindagi channel, known for airing popular Pakistani tv serials.

Bans between countries existed prior to raised tensions
Even before the current growing tension over attacks in Kashmir and the subsequent sweeping censorship, India and Pakistan have instituted bans over each other’s films and actors on an individual basis; though Pakistan more regularly bans Indian film.

The longest and most serious ban came after the second war the two countries fought over Kashmir in 1965, wherein Pakistan banned Indian films for 43 years until the ban was lifted in 2008.

More recently, however, Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) banned Indian romantic comedy ‘Happy Bhag Jayegi’ due to the portrayal of Pakistani leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah in a particular scene, as well as the portrayal of a policeman’s character, the film’s director Aanand L Rai told Hindustan Times on 20 August 2016.

Aanand said initially the CBFC simply asked to cut a “minor part of the film”, which he agreed to do, but then was informed that a “ministry in Pakistan objected to the film”.

The film not only features a Pakistani actor alongside the Indian cast, but was also partially shot in Pakistan, as it tells the story of an Indian woman who ends up in Pakistan after fleeing her marriage.

In July 2016, another Indian film, ‘Dishoom’, was allegedly banned by the CBFC because it shows Pakistan in a “bad light”, reported The Indian Express on 30 July 2016.

However, CBFC chairman, Mobashir Hasan, told the Express Tribune on 1 August 2016 that the film was not “technically” banned, but that the panel “could not reach a unanimous decision”, and so the film would not be screened until the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Heritage decided the “fate of the film”.

The film tells the story of two investigators who team up to find an Indian cricket player who was kidnapped in the Middle East 36 hours before a final match between India and Pakistan.

Earlier in 2016, Punjabi film ‘Ambarsariya’ and Bollywood films, ‘Ishq Forever’ and Neerja’, were banned in Pakistan, and at least six Indian films were banned in Pakistan in 2015.

Additionally, in India in November 2015, the Hindu right-wing party Shiv Sena banned Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan from promoting their films in Maharashtra state.

Photo: Section of ‘Happy Bhag Jayegi’ movie poster


» The Times of India – 19 December 2016:
Pakistani cinema owners to lift self-imposed ban on Indian films today

» The New Indian Express – 18 December 2016:
Pakistan lifts ban on Bollywood movies

» Dawn – 19 October 2016:
Pemra enforces blanket ban on Indian content in Pakistan

» Dawn – 2 October 2016:
Cinepax Cinemas announces all-Pakistani movie schedule

» The Times of India – 1 October 2016:
Pakistan bans broadcast of all Indian television channels

» First Post – 1 October 2016:
Indian channels banned in Pakistan by TV, radio regulatory body; action against flouters

» BBC – 1 October 2016:
Kashmir tension: Pakistan cinemas ban Indian films

» Al Jazeera – 1 October 2016:
Kashmir row: Pakistan slaps ban on Bollywood films

» The Express Tribune – 30 September 2016:
Pakistani cinemas not to screen Indian films indefinitely

» The Guardian – 30 September 2016:
Indian film producers ban Pakistani actors ‘for ever’ over Kashmir crisis

» The Express Tribune – 9 September 2016:
Ban Indian films: Replies sought from govt, censor board

» The Indian Express – 21 August 2016:
Happy Bhag Jayegi banned in Pakistan for showing Jinnah portrait

» Hindustan Times – 20 August 2016:
Abhay Deol and Diana Penty’s Happy Bhag Jayegi banned in Pakistan

» The Express Tribune – 1 August 2016:
‘Dishoom’ technically not banned in Pakistan: CBFC

» The Indian Express – 30 July 2016:
Dishoom banned in Pakistan, Varun Dhawan upset with the decision

More from Freemuse

» 11 July 2016: Pakistan: Controversial Indian film suffers 100 cuts before release

» 17 March 2016: Pakistan: Two Bollywood films banned

» 26 November 2015: India: Pakistani actors banned in Maharashtra state

» 17 September 2015: Pakistan: Court dismissed petition Indian films

» 25 August 2015: Pakistan: Various Bollywood films banned

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