Only days away from its release, Bin Roye finds itself at the heart of controversy across the border. Originally slated to have a simultaneous release across India, the movie has run into trouble in Maharashtra, with nationalist party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) threatening to conduct ‘MNS style’ protests if cinema-owners screen it, reported India Today. Following news about how B4U cinemas, Bin Roye’s Indian distributor, had decided to pull the film out of cinemas in Maharashtra, reports surfaced that Pakistani distributors and exhibitors would retaliate by refusing to screen Bajrangi Bhaijaan in local theatres.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the concerned authorities contemplated the possibility of blocking the cinematic release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan in Pakistan, but no decision has been taken on the matter so far. Satish Anand, chairman of Eveready Group of Companies, which holds the distribution rights to both Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Bin Roye in Pakistan, said the Bollywood film would release on Eidul Fitr as was planned.
He also shared that producers of Bajrangi Bhaijaan have resolved the issue pertaining to the copyrights of Bhar Do Jholi with EMI Pakistan, and that the release of the film will take place according to schedule. “The censor board has viewed the film and they’ve approved the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan in Pakistan,” noted Anand.
Sheikh Adeel Imtiaz, owner of Bambino Cinema, revealed that although no directives have been issued about halting the Bollywood film’s screening, they’ve prepared a fail-safe in case it doesn’t end up seeing the light of day in Pakistani cinemas. “In case Bajrangi [Bhaijaan] does end up being delayed, we’ve already decided to screen two other films, Terminator Genisys and Wrong No,” Imtiaz noted.
Khurram Gultasab, general manager of Super Cinemas, said that the events in Maharashtra should be viewed as an “isolated incident” and people shouldn’t read too much into them. “Bin Roye’s release in India is like the first drop of rain, where you’re bound to feel a little heat,” he said. “Even if the film isn’t shown in Maharashtra, it’s still going to be screened in more than 60 odd cinemas across India. That is a major achievement in itself.”
He added that in lieu of addressing the situation emotionally, authorities should realise that ultimately, Indian films are the ones that help sustain Pakistani cinemas, and have aided the revival of the Pakistani film industry. “It’s not that you have an abundance of Pakistani films releasing throughout the year that cinema-owners can decide to stop showing Indian films in favour of local content,” stated Gultasab.
If Bajrangi Bhaijaan does end up being delayed or banned in Pakistan, then it’d be a win-win situation for Pakistani films. It’d mean an increase in the number of screens for Bin Roye and Wrong No. Bin Roye was already releasing on more than 400 screens worldwide on Eidul Fitr, including Indian cinemas, barring Maharashtra.
When approached to give his opinion on the matter, Duraid Qureshi , CEO of Hum Network refused to comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.