Will Aamir Khan’s Dangal that is slated to hit the theatres tomorrow, December 23, release in Pakistan too on the same day? Indian films which were banned in Pakistan as a retaliation to Pakistani artistes debarred from working in India by the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association, post the Uri-attack, have finally been given a go-ahead by the authorities in Islamabad. Freaky Ali starring Nawauddin Siddiqui is the first Indian film to have a Pakistan release post the lifting of the ban. But it seems the fate of Dangal still hangs in the balance.
According to a report in The Express Tribune, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage and the Ministry of Commerce of the Pakistan government, have sent an official request to the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his permission to release the film. But they are yet to hear anything from Sharif, who is currently in Bosnia.
“An official summary has been sent to the PM Secretariat in relation to Dangal but to no avail. Only once the PM is back can there be any development in the matter,” the paper quotes a source in the Ministry of Information.
The paper also reports that officials of Geo films, the Pakistan distributors of Dangal are in touch with Aamir. A senior member of the Film Exhibitors Association of Pakistan (FEAP) informed that they were also waiting to hear from the PM. “We have been suffering grave financial issues due to the ban. We have started releasing old Indian films to make up for the losses but our survival now depends on the PM,” said a source adding, “Even Indian artists want their films to be screened here but the local distributors are hesitant to purchase new films before the government gives it a green light.”
However, Jamil Baltu PRO to the Information Minister of Pakistan said that he was unaware of any such requests. But, Zoraiz Lashari, chairman of FEAP is confident that Dangal would release in Pakistan. “I want to make it clear that there is no ban on Indian films in Pakistan as no official notification was issued by the government,” he stated.
Geo Films, has also denied claims by some section of the Indian media that Dangal, would not release in Pakistan. “That is false news. Yes there are hurdles that we are facing in releasing the film in Pakistan but we haven’t lost hope yet. The film might get delayed by a week or so but no final decision has been taken as yet,” said Mohammad Nasir of Geo films. Now, the ball seems to be in Sharif’s court!
Incidentally, the diplomatic estrangement between India and Pakistan is taking a heavy toll on film producers and distributors on both sides of the border. On one hand, Shah Rukh Khan has to assure Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief, Raj Thackeray that Mahira Khan, his Pakistani co-star in Raees won’t be in India to promote the film, on the other hand, the producers of Dangal still are uncertain of the film’s future in Pakistan. Quite a pity!