The Bombay High Court recently declared an end to the unofficial ban on Pakistani actors working in Indian projects. This decision marks a potential turning point for Indo-Pak collaborations in the entertainment industry. Shailja Kejriwal, Chief Creative Officer of special projects at Zindagi — India’s pioneering channel featuring Pakistani dramas — shared her insights on the impact of this ruling.
While there was never an official ban, the strained relations between India and Pakistan post the Uri attack in 2016 led to a de facto restriction on collaborations. With the recent court ruling, questions arise about the future collaborations between Indian and Pakistani artists.
Shailja Kejriwal expressed her mixed feelings about the decision while talking to India Today, saying, “I’m scared and happy, both at the same time. The decision is amazing not only because we have been relentless in working with our counterparts from across the border but because I believe that our industry will benefit from different minds coming into it.”
Kejriwal highlighted the potential for growth within the Indian entertainment industry by welcoming diverse talents. “It’s not about offering artists from Pakistan or elsewhere an opportunity. The endeavour has been to grow our industry with talent from different parts so that different minds come together and create something interesting and new rather than formula,” she explained.
Despite the optimism, Kejriwal acknowledged the caution prevailing on both sides of the border. She said, “Everybody’s thrilled and happy, but it is sort of too soon or feels too good to be true. Everybody has their fingers crossed. It just sort of opens so many more windows.”
Commenting on the reciprocity from Pakistan, Kejriwal expressed hope, saying, “I hope that this judgment goes a long way in opening Pakistani doors to Indian films as a counteraction from their side. It will benefit both sides because Hindi films have a huge footfall in Pakistan, more than their own films.”
However, Kejriwal emphasized the need for comprehensive guidelines to protect projects from political tensions between the two countries. She stated, “Apart from this court judgment, there needs to be guidelines to protect films that are shot by artists now and won’t get affected due to political tension between the two countries.”
Reflecting on the impact of OTT platforms, Kejriwal highlighted how the digital realm has blurred boundaries. “South Asia is a huge market, and you cannot make anything globally now without giving South Asia due consideration,” she said. The emphasis on South Asian content on global platforms signals a new era of inclusivity.
As Zindagi has been a channel actively fostering Indo-Pak collaborations, including the creation of original content like Churails and Dhoop Ki Deewar, this lifted ban opens doors for continued creative exchange. The lifted ban represents a hopeful step toward a more interconnected and collaborative future for the entertainment industries of India and Pakistan and we’d love to see that happen.