Indian Spy Thriller 'Agent Vinod' Banned In Pakistan
NEW DELHI - One of the year's biggest Bollywood tentpoles, Agent Vinod, was banned from release in Pakistan over the weekend. Starring top actor Saif Ali Khan and actress Kareena Kapoor, Agent Vinod was released in India and worldwide by leading entertainment conglomerate Eros International on 2,500 screens. According to figures released Tuesday, Eros said the film has grossed about $10 million (Rupees 490 million) of which Rupees 76.5 million was from outside India.
But Pakistan reportedly banned the film because authorities didn't approve of the film's plot which shows the country in a negative light, supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and hatching a plot to detonate a nuclear bomb in India's capital, Delhi.
“It was our judgment that it should not be allowed to be screened,” Pakistan's Film Censor Board vice chairman Muhammad Ashraf Gondal was quoted by the Associated Press. “It falls under the negative codes of our censor,” he added without providing further details.
“Agent Vinod is for Indians, but it is not against Pakistanis,” said the movie's lead actor and co-producer, Saif Ali Khan in an interview with the Indo-Asian News Service. “But I understand if they (Pakistan) get upset because we are beating them up quite often in the film.”
Khan plays a James Bond-inspired character as agent Vinod, a spy from India's intelligence bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing, which has been engaged in a real-life cloak and dagger face-off over many decades against Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.
Following the end of British rule in 1947, Pakistan was carved out of India as a separate state. The edgy neighbors have fought three major wars since then. Given the tense relations, Indian films were banned in Pakistan since 1965 but Bollywood has enjoyed massive popularity, especially via pirated home videos since the eighties.
The ban was finally lifted in 2008 allowing a trickle of Bollywood releases but some individual titles have been banned such as 2010's comedy hit Tere Bin Laden (Without You, Bin Laden), which spoofed the search for Osama bin Laden. Despite such incidents, Pakistani talent has been working in Indian films for many years, such as pop star Ali Zafar who played the lead role in Tere Bin Laden.