The Federal Censor Board of Pakistan has decided to finally lift its ban on Indian films ..albeit conditionally. Are we supposed to trill in glee?
Any Indian film with a Pakistani co-producer or having a Pakistani cast and shot outside India can be released in Pakistan.
Deserved of a polemic debate imho despite the congruence of our cultural ethos which invites bondedness and elicits no surprise at the phenomenon of similarity in preferences . One is perplexed whether to welcome this decision as one which will herald a new era in film trade, beneficial to both countries or feel snubbed over the overtly snooty strictures it encompasses.
Three conditions prima facie form the basis of the regulation.
1) Pakistani co-producer
2) Pakistani cast
3) Shot outside India
While the first two can be rationalised as an impetus to their floundering movie industry , its the third which defies logic while simultaneously reminding us that ‘its the enemy’ at work here. How else can one assimilate the thought process that may have sourced such a stricture! How would shooting in India in any way reflect poorly on Pakistan? Unless of course there are ramifications in the Foreign office in both countries. But then again, if such an atmosphere is yet prevalent, then why lift the ban?
Pakistani films with their largely agrestic overtones have failed to capture the imagination of the masses in their home turf. Ever since films were being made in India, their popularity has been widely accepted in Pakistan. However, its the ‘black market’ there which prospered owing to the ban by Pakistan. Our stars, music, films, trends, even television, has a huge fan following there despite the dictatorship .
India on the other hand has warm heartedly welcomed Pakistani actors , music, musicians, singers with an almost childlike zest, eagerness and camaraderie. We have never condescended to imposing regulations of any kind on performing artists here. No law that demands an Indian counterpart or any such which would insidiously hint at monetary benefit for India!
Neither does it alter the popularity of the artist, his being a Pakistani,whether it was Nusrat fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen,Adnan Sami, Noor Jehan, Junoon, Strings. ‘Great Indian Laughter Challenge” a comedy show had as its winner a Pakistani !! The presently on ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ contest boasts of Pakistani singers competing neck to neck with Indians in an unbiased and impartial environ!! Talent has as if blurred /erased any man made boundaries or political rivalries.
Kudos to us Indians on that score!! On the flip side, are we over doing it?
Pakistans reciprocity or rather lack of it in the matter has always been a sore point with most Indians especially fundamentalists who often questioned the right of Pakistani artists to perform here openly in the scenario where Indians were denied similar access. Not that Indians yearned for it, since the market here as well as overseas was enough to keep the economics profitable.
Have we en masse now hynotised ourselves to eagerly accepting whatever may be dished out either from our own Government or now, Pakistan? Do we lack self esteem?
Despite the apparent snobbery involved in the stance of Pakistani officials, some Indian producers like the Bhatts, Mahesh and Mukesh, as if pounced on the opportunity, in deference to the diktat and now are eagerly awaiting their first release ‘ Awaarapan’ in Pakistan. Just thinking aloud..Does Mahesh Bhatts ‘muslim mother connection have to do with this alacrity in responding to the obviously one sided Pakistani ‘firmaan’.. we would never know.
However, adopting a balanced view, the fact that the Pakistani market or ‘territory’ as in film trade jargon can be safely considered almost as big as Mumbai , it provides enough incentive for Producers who wish to milk their film of every available source of revenue. After all why should the black marketeers sponge off the cream which is rightly due to the producer of the films that are so successful?
Therefore if one is a producer, then the offer is fairly palatable. But does it always have to be about gains , regardless of sentiments and self respect, non parity in affiliate interests? For a distanced and impartial Indian citizen, the high handedness seems unacceptable. After all this is a highly lucrative deal for Pakistan as well. Its remunerative perhaps more than their own films have ever been . Then why the uppity demeanour?
If steps are being taken to bring the countries closer, forge cordial alliances, as Musharraf has often stridently proclaimed, then ‘baby steps’ after 60 years will lead us nowhere. And this surely is one mini, baby step..not devoid of acrimonious after effects and bitter taste in the mouth!