Ban on Indian movies lifted: PFPA chief -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Ban on Indian movies lifted: PFPA chief

NEW DELHI, January 23 2006: Films from India’s prolific Bollywood movie industry – officially banned for decades in Pakistan but still watched by millions there – have become legal, the head of a Pakistani producers’ group said on Sunday January 22.

Pakistan outlawed public screenings of Indian films in 1965. But now, both countries are working hard on a sweeping peace process. Saeed Rizvi, president of the Pakistan Film Producers Association (FPA), said President Pervez Musharraf approved a request to delete the words “Indian artiste” and “Indian director” from censorship guidelines that had prevented the release of films featuring Indian actors and directors.

“An appeal was made to President Musharraf and the president has omitted this clause,” Rizvi told The Associated Press by telephone from Karachi. The distributor of the 1984 romance “Sohni Mahiwal,” an Indo-Russian joint production, approached Musharraf for the waiver. On Friday, the censor board took out the reference to Indians in its rules, Rizvi said.

Authorities in Pakistan could not immediately be reached to confirm the statement. Top Indian filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who has in recent years led the way in hiring Pakistani actors, singers and composers in his films, welcomed the move. Bhatt has for years planned to shoot a film in Pakistan, but has not received permission.

“It is a major shift. This will see an upsurge in co-productions. We could now see Pakistani films with Indian actors,” Bhatt told AP from Mumbai, where India’s film industry is based. “Pakistan’s film industry is on its last legs and they are looking for a life support system. It is quite courageous of them to come to terms with the reality.”

India’s Hindi-language film industry, dubbed Bollywood, is the world’s largest by viewership and the number of films it churns out each year. Millions around the world watch the exuberant song-and-dance features, even in countries where Hindi isn’t understood.

Even during the ban – and despite a half-century of bitter rivalry between the two countries – Indian films are hugely popular in Pakistan. Illicit copies are easy to find. “Pakistanis are crazy about Indian films,” said Rizvi. “This will give a new life to the Pakistani film industry. If we are allowed to make joint ventures, we will get a new market.”

Pakistani producers have worked secretly in India for years, getting around a government ban by purportedly going to visit family and friends but getting films edited and music composed in Mumbai.

“We have all been doing work in India. But … I don’t want this to be a secret,” Rizvi said. “I want the governments to allow this so that we can do it openly.” Bhatt said lifting the ban will help further ease tensions between India and Pakistan.
Source: The News