Lahore-based film artists want ban on Bollywood, for good
LAHORE: Artists representing what remains of our Lahore-based film industry have, time and again, called out for a blanket ban on Indian content, which they feel is stifling Pakistani cinema.
In light of the rising hostility towards Pakistani artists in India and the cross-border tensions, film veterans took to Lahore Press Club on Monday to make their demands clear during a press conference.
Led by actors Mustafa Qureshi and Irfan Khoosat and film-maker Sangeeta, the artists have called for a ban on Bollywood films in Pakistan, for good. They want the government to act soon and release a notification in this regard.
Speaking on the occasion, Qureshi said Indian films were “illegally” being released in Pakistan and they have long been raising a voice against them. “No one listened to us earlier but now, everyone can see what is happening. Indians don’t want our artists there. We should respond too,” he said. The Maula Jatt star said we have been screening Indian content at our theatres for several years now, while the same importance is never given to Pakistani films, across the border. He said Pakistani audiences have no choice but to watch Indian films, buying the expensive tickets at multiplexes. “Those films target only the affluent section of society. Our films, on the other hand, represent the working class. We want cinemas where the common man can take his family for some healthy entertainment,” he added.
Flanked by Nasir Adeeb, Chaudhary Ejaz Kamran, Ashi Khan, Fayyaz Khan, Shahzad Rafique and Pervaiz Kalim, he said the Pakistani government should decide upon the matter quickly. Other speakers urged the ruling party to focus on the welfare of artists and revamping cinemas that are in a dilapidated condition.
Sangeeta said it is more than just a matter of tit for tat. “It is a matter of pride and dignity. It is a matter of our love for the country. Not only should their films but their TV serials also be stopped with immediate effect.” Sangeeta agreed that the import of Indian films has deprived the Pakistani common man of “healthy entertainment” and left our artist community high and dry. “It is shameful that India is killing innocent people in Kashmir and we cannot even stop their films.”
Kamran, who is also Pakistan Film Distributors Association chairperson, said cinema owners should start exhibiting Chinese and Iranian films instead. “Pakistani artists working in India should come back to their country. Money is not everything. Respect is more important,” he said.
Adeeb said that in the past, the government has banned Indian films and those laws still exist. “I am ready to write scripts for free if that helps our industry recover. I think all our artists should unite at this stage,” the writing veteran said.
Irfan, who is the father of actor-director Sarmad Khoosat, said our rulers have forgotten the very idea over which Pakistan was created. “Our younger generation is inspired by Indian artists. We cannot allow that to continue,” he added.