Mumbai: Last year, theatre owners and exhibitors in Pakistan temporarily stopped screening Indian films after Pakistani artistes and technicians were banned by the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA) from in India. The controversial move was taken in the wake of political tension between India and Pakistan, post the Uri (Jammu and Kashmir) attacks in September.
However, earlier this year, Pakistan lifted the ban on Indian films and began screening them in the country. And a few days ago, local distributors from the neighbouring nation apparently requested for Dangal (2016) to be released there. Aamir Khan and the film’s team were “absolutely okay” with that, especially since Pakistani audiences have always loved Hindi films and Indian actors.
However, Hindustan Times has learnt that the release of the film couldn’t go through when a “surprising” demand came in from the other side of the border. A source says, “When the film went to the Pakistan censor board, they were fine with it except for two particular scenes towards the end — one in which the Indian flag is shown and another in which the Indian national anthem is played after Geeta Phogat (played by Fatima Sana Shaikh) wins the gold medal. The Pakistan censors wanted the scenes to be edited out before they gave Dangal the green signal,” says an insider.
But Aamir — who is also the producer of the film — felt that the “demand for the two cuts was surprising, because the film isn’t jingoistic in nature”. The source says, “It’s a sports-based biopic with no direct or indirect reference to Pakistan. The film only highlights India’s nationalistic sentiment, so what is the reason to chop off those scenes?”
Aamir then decided that the film would not be released in Pakistan. Dangal is the Hindi movie industry’s biggest blockbuster with over Rs 385 crore at the Indian box office. “It will result in an economic loss to the tune of Rs 10-12 crore, as Pakistan is an important international territory vis-à-vis money, but he isn’t willing to edit the scenes in question. He is aware that not releasing the film could lead to piracy, but he is sure about what he won’t do,” adds the source.