The recent Pulwama attack seems to be burning the fickle bridge between Pakistan and India, and the first casualty; as we had predicted earlier, is arts and entertainment.
Yesterday, Ajay Devgn, producer of the upcoming film, Total Dhamaal had tweeted that they will not be releasing their film in Pakistan due to the ongoing situation. Today, we had the makers of another upcoming Indian film, Luka Chuppi announcing the same.
With two big Bollywood films not releasing in Pakistan, we can only expect that others will follow suit and Pakistani cinemas may soon face a content shortage.
Pakistan has over 150 screens as of now, and some of these are housed in multiplexes that have up to ten screens. Running them without a steady flow of content every week; that used to be previously provided by Indian films, will now be quite tricky.
Yes, our local industry is booming and more films are being produced, but the fact is that we still produce less than 25 films every year and that too cluttered around holidays.
Doomed for Next Couple of Months
To get more insights into the matter, we contacted Nadeem Mandviwalla – a veteran film distributor and cinema owner (Atrium and Centaurus Cineplex) who has always been the voice of the reason. He shared with us his viewpoint and what he says means a lot in the industry, to say the least.
Talking about the withdrawal of Indian content in the wake of Pulwama incident, Mr. Mandviwalla said, “We (the cinema industry) have become collateral damage and these coming four-five months we are doomed.”
The Self-Imposed Indian Ban
How long does he foresee this self-imposed ban from Indian filmmakers to go on?
“Well, I feel it is all about the elections in India, and this will go on till May. However, let me add that lifting the ban will be quite difficult. It’s always easy to impose a ban, but how to lift it is the real challenge,” Mandviwalla replied.
“The last time, when the Uri attack happened, we had a self-imposed ban which was a calculated move on our part as neither the Indian government nor ours had imposed it. Therefore, lifting it was simpler. This time it will be tricky,” he added.
The Effect on Numbers
Talking about how the ban will affect the box office for Indian films, Mandviwalla said, “Yes they do make money from Pakistan, but it’s all bonus money. The main numbers come from their home ground itself. So, they will lose by not releasing here, but not too much.”
Adding on and explaining the rationale for this ban from the Indian side, Nadeem Mandviwalla said, “Given the sentiments in India, they (Bollywood producers) had to stop the release from Pakistan, as not doing so could have jeopardized their release in their own country.”
On a parting note, we asked him about the patriotism that is seen on social media and how suggestions are being made to explore other cinemas such as Iranian and all.
“Patriotism at somebody’s cost is easy! People are just talking without knowing the facts. As for exploring other cinemas, well, go to a DVD store, whatever sells there is exactly what will sell in cinemas. Does Iranian cinema sell there?” Mr. Mandviwalla replied and surely gave us a thought to ponder over!”
We sincerely hope that sanity prevails and both the nations discuss their issues on the table, and that a more peaceful solution is worked out.