KARACHI: Not much is known about the plot of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, but from what has been revealed so far, Salman Khan’s character Bajrangi helps a young, speech-impaired girl from Pakistan return to her homeland.
Considering the current drama and mystery surrounding the release of the film in Pakistan, it’d be a real tragedy if Bajrangi ends up making it across the border but the film doesn’t.
With only a few days till Eidul Fitr, the fate of the movie still hangs in the balance. According to sources, it has already been censored in Islamabad and Karachi, but its fate will be determined by whether or not it gets approved by the Lahore censor board. Terming the censor screenings in Islamabad and Karachi as a ‘routine’ procedure, chief executive of Eveready Pictures, Satish Anand, said the process of censoring the film was the same as it is for any other international film.
But reports emerging from the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) say otherwise. Mobashir Hasan, chairman of the CBFC, told The Express Tribune, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan has been approved for Eid release by the CBFC but with several cuts [to the film].” He said the panel that recommended these changes comprises members of natural security agencies, film critics and members of the civil society, who made the decision after a thorough discussion.
Hasan revealed that since the CBFC is a regulatory body, determining the time of release of a film doesn’t fall within its jurisdiction, but that it has ‘approved’ Bajrangi Bhaijaan for Eid. “In special cases, where a film has to be delayed or restricted, we receive directives from the information ministry, and we haven’t received any such instructions so far,” he shared.
Following the imposition of the 18th Amendment and subsequent decentralisation, the CBFC doesn’t hold the power to censor the film across Pakistan. All the cinemas in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and cantonments around the country come within the CBFC’s ambit. Apart from that, since Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is yet to form their own censor board, it also receives directives from the central board. Sources revealed that security agencies have asked regional censor boards to play a uniform cut of Bajrangi Bhaijaan across the country.
An article recently published in Indian publication Mid-Day reported that there’s an increase in the likelihood of the film’s release getting delayed to accommodate two Pakistani films releasing this Eid. “Salman [Khan] has a huge fan-following [in Pakistan], so there’s apprehension that his film might eat into the business of their Eid releases, Wrong No. and Bin Roye. It’s highly unlikely that Bajrangi Bhaijaan will release along with them on that day,” read the report.
Whether or not the movie’s release gets a go-ahead in Pakistan, distributor of the film, Eveready Pictures, has already created a cushion for itself, by taking up the distribution rights to two other films, Bin Roye and Ant-Man.
ADDITIONAL INPUT BY: ADNAN LODHI