Tension between India and Pakistan sparks film feud

Not coming to a cinema near you - Bollywood films in Pakistan or Pakistani film stars in India.

Billboards of a local cinema display films showing in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday, October 1, 2016. Pakistani cinemas have stopped showing Indian films after India banned Pakistani actors because of  tensions over Kashmir. Fareed Khan / AP
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ISLAMABAD // In a case of art imitating life, the tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has spread from the street to the screen. Pakistani cinemas have stopped showing Indian films after India banned Pakistani actors from its movie industry.

Nadeem Mandviwala, who owns nearly a dozen cinemas in Karachi and Islamabad, said that he and other distributors have agreed to stop showing Indian films until relations improve. He said the ban is a private initiative.

The move came after the Indian Motion Pictures’ Artists Association, the main body representing Indian film producers and exhibitors adopted a resolution on Thursday banning Pakistani actors and technicians from working on their films.

The Pakistan Film Exhibitors and Distributors Group called the ban “deeply regrettable” and said screening of all Indian films would be suspended “until normalcy returns.”

Pakistan is a big earner for Indian films with up to 80 shown at Pakistani cinemas every year and the ban has divided opinion among Bollywood stars.

Leading Indian actor, Salman Khan, said Pakistani artistes were not terrorists. “They come to our country after acquiring a visa, and it’s our government who allows them with the work permit in our country,” he said. winning immediate agreement from actor Om Puri and producer-director Shyam Benegal.

But Indian producer-director Pahlaj Nihalani and actor Anupam Kher backed the association’s decision. They are well-known supporters of prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

After the Kashmir attacks, the Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti, a regional party based in Mumbai, asked Pakistani actors and artists to leave India within 48 hours or be pushed out.

* Associated Press