Indian Films to Return to Pakistani Cinemas

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Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's latest film 'Raees' could open in Pakistan.

The country's information and broadcasting ministry cites “the benefits Pakistani cinema trade can derive from their exhibition,” according to a local media report.

Indian films could return to Pakistani cinemas after September when local reports indicated that theater owners would not screen them as a response to a temporary ban of Pakistani talent by Indian film producers amid political tensions between the two countries. While there was no official ban announced by any government or industry body, Indian films have not screened in Pakistan since then. But that could change following a new official directive by the country's information and broadcasting ministry, according to a report in Pakistan's Express Tribune Tuesday.

The newspaper reported that the final approval for the directive was given by Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif following a report by a special committee for the clearance of Indian films. The committee, formed by Sharif, was headed by the country's information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, who said that the government had decided to lift the so-called ban on Indian films "after reviewing the benefits Pakistani cinema trade can derive from their exhibition," according to the newspaper.

This means that two recent major Bollywood releases can now screen in the country. They are superstar Shah Rukh Khan's Raees and Hrithik Roshan's Kaabil. They can open once it is confirmed that the films adhere to the revised import guidelines spelled out in the directive. These include the importer submitting a request to the information and broadcasting ministry and to the commerce ministry in addition to providing documents for censor board clearance, such as an agreement of purchase of valid rights.

Meanwhile, it is not clear if the ongoing ban on Pakistani talent and technicians issued by the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association will be lifted anytime. When the ban was first unveiled as a resolution at IMPPA's annual general meeting in September, the association's president T. P. Agarwal was quoted as saying that it would remain in force until "the relations between India and Pakistan are okay."

In September, tensions ran high following a deadly attack on an Indian army base that India alleged was the work of terrorists from Pakistan. Soon after, India announced it had conducted “surgical strikes” on what were believed to be areas inhabited by terrorists.

Updated Feb. 1, 2:50 a.m. PT with a clarification that there was no official ban on Indian films.