The decision to release a film or not depends on the law and is not driven by controversies, says the Sindh censor board’s chief, Fakhre Alam, when questioned about Phantom’s release in Pakistan..
“We have a clear set of laws and rules as legislated by the parliament. We have to comply with the law. (It’s as) simple as that,” Fakhre Alam, Sindh Board of Film Certification (SBFC) chairman, told in an interview.
“Our job is not to get involved in controversies or respond to everyone and everything. We will follow the law and take decisions according to law,” he added.
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Phantom is a political thriller inspired by Dongri To Dubai writer Hussain Zaidi’s Mumbai Avengers, which is based on the aftermath of the 26/11 terror attacks.
The movie, starring Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif, is directed by Kabir Khan - the filmmaker whose past project, Kabul Express, elicited protests from some quarters in Pakistan for reflecting the “traditional anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam mentality of India”, while Ek Tha Tiger was banned in Pakistan following allegations that it portrays the neighboring country’s intelligence agency in a bad light.
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However, Kabir Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan, a Salman Khan-starrer that propagates a positive message of peace, unity and brotherhood, went houseful in Pakistan despite initial hiccups in its release.
After its release, Satish Anand, head honcho of Eveready Group of Companies which distributed Bajrangi Bhaijaan in the nation, recalled how they faced a lot of problems in bringing the movie to screens due to its trailer and because it was from the director whose film Ek Tha Tiger never got released in the country.
Even Fakhre Alam had via a Twitter account claimed he received threats for allowing the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which ended up regaling a majority of the audience with its heartwarming story about an Indian man who comes to the rescue of a lost six-year-old mute girl from Pakistan.
In an earlier email interview he had said, “There are good and bad elements everywhere in the world. There are still some who have not come to terms with the fact that the world has moved into the 21st century. The threats do not deter us...we believe in betterment and growth.”
He had given the green signal to Bajrangi Bhaijaan and requested cinema owners to be more alert and vigilant in case some violence erupted.
“I took the necessary precautions, but we ensured Bajrangi Bhaijaan was not disrupted. Wish Maharashtra government had done the same for Bin Roye,” he said in reference to the Mahira Khan-starrer on which Maharashtra Navnirman Sena called for a statewide ban last month.
Bangistan, directed by Karan Anshuman, is known to be another Bollywood film banned in Pakistan this year.
But Fakhre Alam said the SBFC is the “last stop when a foreign film is imported” and that there’s a process every foreign movie needs to go through before reaching the big screen in his nation.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.
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