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Indian Cinemas Group Bans Films With Pakistani Artists

by AFP


Film trade analyst says he expects ban to affect 300-350 movie theaters in four Indian states.

A group of Indian cinemas said on Friday they would not screen any films featuring Pakistani artists in protest at an attack by militants that killed 19 Indian soldiers in India-administered Kashmir.

“It doesn’t matter if they are Pakistani artists, Pakistani music directors or Pakistani directors. From now on we will not release their films,” said Nitin Datar, chairman of India’s Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association (COEA).

The ban applies to single screen cinemas in four states—Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka—and not big multiplexes, which tend to be frequented by India’s more affluent.

Mumbai-based film trade analyst Akshaye Rathi told AFP that he expected the ban to affect between 300 and 350 movie theaters. The move comes as Hindu nationalist groups pile pressure on the makers of upcoming release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (This Heart is Complicated) to drop a Pakistani artist from the romantic drama. The Karan Johar-directed movie, which stars former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor—features Pakistani actor and singer Fawad Khan.

India blames Pakistan for the raid on its army base in India-administered Kashmir on Sept. 18, which saw the Indian army respond with “surgical strikes” that have denied by Islamabad.

Following the militant attack, the fringe but noisy right-wing group Maharashtra Navnirman Sena called for a ban on Pakistani artists in Indian films. It also threatened to stall the Oct. 28 release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association, which represents a number of Hindi film industry employees, last month passed a motion banning Pakistani artists until relations between India and Pakistan improve. Tensions between the neighboring states are high due to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, which both claim as their own.

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