KARACHI: Perhaps it’s in the name. Every angry statement, every vow for peace shared between India and Pakistan takes a toll on the fate of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. However, in a series of recent developments, it seems that the Fawad Khan-starrer is likely to release in Pakistan and that too, on October 20.
“We have spoken to concerned authorities in India and have asked them to relax the ban on Pakistani actors so that we can release the film in Pakistan,” an official of IMGC entertainment, the local distributor of the film, told The Express Tribune. “We respect the decision taken by Pakistani exhibitors of not showing Indian films because film trade should be on a mutual basis, but we also want Pakistani audiences to watch this film,” he concluded, requesting not to be named.
When approached, IMGC Entertainment owner Sheikh Amjad Rasheed said things have changed for the better since the Indians are no longer demanding scenes of Pakistani actors to be edited out from films already in production. “We have spoken to people at Eros and Fox and hopefully you’re going to watch the film in Pakistan on October 20,” Rasheed added.
The problem, however, is with the exhibitors. It all started after the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA) officially banned Pakistani artists and technicians from working in India and in response to that, Pakistani exhibitors decided to suspend screening of Indian films indefinitely. As per the latest meeting of Pakistan’s leading distributors and exhibitors that took place on Thursday, the ban has been extended till Ashura.
The fact that the suspension is “till normalcy” and has not been formalised by a government order has caused rifts within the ranks of leading cinema owners of the country. “Yes the ban is till normalcy but our understanding of normalcy may vary from what the group of exhibitors is saying. If we think the situation is better, we will obviously play Fawad’s film … there are no two ways about it. We don’t need anyone’s approval for that,” a Nueplex Cinemas official told The Express Tribune, on the condition of anonymity. The chain of cinemas alone constitutes about 12% of Pakistani screens.
For Ae Dil Hai Mushkil to generate a profit, it is very important that the remaining 88% cinemas also come on board. With losses on the box office expected to increase post-Ashura, this is very likely to happen.
As far as the legal procedures of the Karan Johar film are concerned, thing are pretty much sorted and the distributor should receive a NoC from the government by Monday. “After reviewing the synopsis, trailer and other promotional material of the film, we have found nothing objectionable with it and have asked the federal commerce ministry to issue the NoC,” Central Board of Film Censors Chairperson Mobashir Hasan said. “The film’s public exhibition, however, is subject to censor.”