Pakistan film ban
The Pakistan government's decision to bar Raees came after Pakistani cinemas lifted their own ban on Indian films.RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images

In the last few years, Pakistan is known to have banned several Indian films from being screened in the country. While there was never a blanket ban in place, and was mostly on the basis of Eid releases and the content of the film, the Pakistan Film Producers Association (PFPA) is now demanding a complete ban.

The PFPA has asked why Indian films should be permitted a release in Pakistan, when India doesn't screen Pakistani films.

Speaking of this move, senior representative of PFPA Chaudhry Ejaz Kamran told the The Express Tribune that it was for the welfare of the local film industry. "If Indian stake holders and organisations can take a stand and do everything for the welfare of their industry, then why can't we? They have banned our artists and films in the past so what's stopping us?" he questioned.

The association has been making this demand for a while now, but said that the previous governments never enforced the ban. The members have now written to Prime Minister Imran Khan urging him to consider the restriction for the growth of local artists and the film industry. They believe that if there is no restriction, theatre owners will continue to screen Indian films, which, in turn, will hit the revenue of the Pakistani film industry.

"We have struggled for the welfare of our local film industry and this is why we decided to contact Imran Khan. We are hopeful that he will listen to us and impose the ban," Kamran added.

The PFPA has also submitted a petition requesting a ban on Indian films at the Lahore High Court and said that the Pakistani film industry has been facing woes due to the popularity of Indian films in the country.

"We are lucky enough to be in a position to make such bold requests for the well-being of local films. It is great to see that the business of film-making has restarted in Pakistan and we should do everything we can to support this. The last six years have proved that we are more than capable of holding our own," the PFPA said.

However, PFPA's move seems to have divided the movie goers and many of them, which include a few distributors, believe that Indian films should be screened in the country. They believe that a blanket ban would disrupt the market, specially in terms of investment.

The Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association (PFEA) explained that the PFPA should focus on reviving the local industry and produce more films instead of demanding such bans. "There are various senior film producers within PFPA that no longer work and it's funny to see them demand bans when they can't even produce ten films a year. They have to understand that Bollywood films have a massive viewership and this brings in a lot of revenue," the Tribune quoted a senior member of the PFEA as saying.

Mahira Khan
Mahira KhanANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images

Just in 2018, Pakistan has banned five Indian movies – Pad Man, Pari, Raazi, Veere Di Wedding, and Parmanu – in the country, mostly for their content. In the year 2017, Jolly LLB 2, Naam Shabana, Dangal, Tiger Zinda Hai, and Tubelight did not receive a permit to play in Pakistan. Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raees too was banned in the country, even though Mahira Khan, a Pakistani national, made a Bollywood debut in the film.