Lashari when contacted by made it clear that the Pakistan government had not banned the screening of Indian films in Pakistan even after the relations between the two countries got tense last year.
“In fact because distributors, exhibitors and cinema owners in Pakistan were facing some NOC issues over the import, certification and screening of new Indian films, Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif has now formed a special committee to discuss the issue and ensure the release of upcoming Indian films in Pakistan,” he said.
He said a meeting was held last week of the committee which was attended by all stakeholders of the Pakistan cinema industry and a lot of focus was laid on supporting Pakistani films while it was also made clear that the government did not ban Indian films. Lashari recalled that cinema owners had themselves voluntarily decided to suspend screening of Indian films after Pakistani actors were stopped from performing in India.
He said the government committee was now working overtime to make the release of new Indian films possible in Pakistan and added that there could be some positive news in the next two days. Lashari also insisted that cinema owners as well as distributors in both India and Pakistan are willing to release Indian films in Pakistan.
“Few contracts have also been signed for future films and we should be able to see Indian films soon in Pakistan. The NOC process will start shortly.” Industry sources told that Pakistani film distributors, exhibitors and cinema owners were keeping their fingers crossed that they will soon get NOCs to import the prints of Aamir Khan’s runaway success, ‘Dangal’ and Shah Rukh Khan’s upcoming release with Pakistani actor, Mahira Khan, ‘Raees’ in theatres.
“If these two films are released distributors, exhibitors and cinema owners can recoup all their losses from the last four to five months,” well known cinema owner and exhibitor, Nadeem Mandviwalla said. Maryam Aurangzeb, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting has categorically stated that “Pakistani cinema needs 200 local films per year to survive on its own; until then we’ll have to rely on foreign content.”
Pakistani cinema owners and the industry has been going through severe losses after the suspension of Indian films and even though the suspension was lifted few weeks back the NOC issue has held back release of new films. Cinema owners in the meantime are surviving on showing old Indian films including Salman Khan’s ‘Dabangg’, ‘Housefull’, ‘Freaky Ali’ and ‘Baar Baar Dekho’.