Film exhibitors and cinema owners in Pakistan have decided to lift the self-imposed ban on Indian films and will start screening them from December 19 following a major drop in their revenue. The screening of Indian films was banned in the country due to the escalation of tensions between the two countries following the Uri terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir.
Chairman of the Film Exhibitors Association, Zoraish Lashari, told reporters: "The cinema owners and other stakeholders in the industry have been hit by the decision to impose a temporary suspension on the screening of Indian films. A lot of investment has been made in upgrading or building new cineplexes and multiplexes and the business at this time is dependent on the screening of latest Indian films."
Lashari said that the decision to begin screening Indian films again was taken after thorough discussion. He claimed that Indian films were never banned. Film exhibitors and cinema owners had just imposed a temporary suspension on the screening of films from across the border. The association consists of most owners of cineplexes, multiplexes and single-screen cinemas in Pakistan.
Industry sources said that the decision was taken after Pakistani films and the latest Hollywood films failed to attract large crowds to cinema halls, Press Trust of India reported.
"Plus in recent weeks several Indian films have been released while everyone is eagerly anticipating the release of Aamir Khan's Dangal," a source told the agency. Another source said a few cinema owners feared a backlash from religious groups if they resumed the screening of Indian films and have, therefore, asked for protection.
Lashari said that the unreleased (in Pakistan) Indian films would be screened first following which members of the association would hold talks with Indian negotiators to continue the import of Indian films into the country.
Sabina Islam, a senior manager of a major chain of cineplexes, told PTI that 75 percent of the revenue generated by the industry comes from the screening of Indian films. Pakistan is the third largest market for Indian films.