Pakistan's central censor board puts Bajrangi Bhaijaan on hold amid copyrights issues

The distributors may have to remove ‘Bhar Do Jholi’ from the film for it to be released in Pakistan

Hasan Ansari July 14, 2015

KARACHI: With only a couple of days to go till the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the ensuing drama between EMI Pakistan and the film has finally reached its climax.

The Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) has held the certification of Bajrangi Bhaijan until the legal matters highlighted by EMI Pakistan, pertaining to the licensing of Bhardo Jholi, are sorted.

EMI Pakistani had directed a copy of legal notice that was issued to the producers of the film to CBFC Pakistan. After which CBFC requested Satish Anand, CEO of Eveready Pictures -- the company responsible for the film’s distribution in Pakistan -- to sort out legal matters with EMI Pakistan as highlighted in the initial legal notice.

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Speaking to The Express Tribune, Chairman Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC), Mobashir Hasan revealed that the certificate for the film would only be issued once both parties notify them that the legal dispute surrounding the movie is settled.

“As per the 1979 Copyright’s ordinance, we do have the authority to hold the certification of any film or to take back an already certified film if it features plagiarised content. And since EMI has accused the film of plagiarism, we have requested them to sort out this matter with the local distributors.”

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In response to CBFC’s request, Anand provided them with an affidavit stating that if the matter is not resolved in due time then the qawwali shall be removed from the film.

“In the affidavit Satish Anand also said that in case of misrepresentation of facts he was willing to be penalised as per the laws of the state,” said Hasan. The affidavit further stated that EMI Pakistan and the producers of the Bollywood film are in direct link with one another.

On the other hand EMI Pakistan has refused Eveready Pictures’ offer to resolve the matter by removing the qawwali from the film. “We have had discussions with Eveready Pictures and they are insisting that we either license the film for Pakistani territory or remove the qawwali from the film for its release in Pakistan,” Zeeshan Chaudhry, the managing director of EMI Pakistan told The Express Tribune.

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“We have refused the offer because we believe that Pakistan’s copyright must be acknowledged and the producers must secure rights for the worldwide release.”

For now, even if EMI Pakistan wants to remove the qawwali from all the film’s versions in Pakistan, they will have to approach all other provincial boards to take similar measures as CBFC.

The matter is most likely to be resolved internally and Bajrangi Bhaijaan will be released in Pakistan.

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