Giving relief to the Hindi film industry, a petition seeking a ban on Indian films filed before the high court in Lahore was withdrawn on Monday. The petition was filed by television talk show host Mubashir Lucman following which justice Mohammed Khalid Mehmood Khan recently issued a ban on Indian films and posted the matter for December 16.
According to Rashed Rahman, editor of the Pakistani Daily Times, Lahore, when the matter came up for hearing on Monday, a compromise was reached between the Pakistan Cinema Owners’ Association and film distributors and the petitioner. As per the compromise, cinema halls in Pakistan will be permitted to equally share screening time between Indian and Pakistani films.
“Following this compromise, Lucman withdrew his petition,’’ Rahman said.
Noted producer Mahesh Bhatt welcomed the development. He said the Hindi film industry was shocked when the Lahore court banned Hindi films. “The petitioner had invoked an ancient law, as per which films produced in India could not be screened in Pakistan,’’ Bhatt said.
“When General Pervez Musharraf came to power, he took a soft line and did not insist on strict implementation of the law because of which Hindi films were shown in Pakistani cinema halls. I am planning to ask the Indian film producers’ guild to write to prime minister Nawaz Sharif to take a liberal stand and ensure that Hindi films are allowed a free run in his country. Sharif himself loves Hindi films,’’ Bhatt told dna. He said the Pakistani film industry was gasping for breath and was heavily dependent on Hindi films. In fact, many businessmen have opened cinemas across Pakistan only to screen Hindi films, which are huge hits there, he said. Indian television programmes are also popular in that country. He said legal export of Indian films would also kill the market for smuggled films.
In the Pakistani legal tussle, the Lahore high court issued notices to the Federal Censor Board and Pakistan Electronic Media Association last Thursday, asking them to file their say for the hearing on December 16. Barrister Ali Zafar, who appeared for the film distributors, stated that a false case had been filed alleging that exhibition of Indian films in Pakistan was illegal and through misrepresentation an ex-parte order had been obtained. He argued that the Pakistan Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979, and the Censorship of Films Rules, 1980, did not prohibit the certification and exhibition of any Indian film.