Natun Sokal Desk: The Pakistan Government has banned upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Neerja’, saying the movie showed the country “in bad light”.
The movie, which will see worldwide release on February 19, is based on hijacking of the Pan Am Flight 73 on September 5, 1986, from Karachi airport. Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor plays the eponymous Neerja Bhanot, the flight attendant who died during the hijack and was posthumously given bravery awards in India, Pakistan and the US for helping many passengers escape.
The movie has been banned without having passed through the country’s censor board, a deviation from the country’s usual practice. Advertisements showed the movie was scheduled for released on its slated date.
However, Ministry of Commerce, which had initially approved the movie’s import, later changed its mind. "The ministry issued us a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to import the film and bring it to Pakistani territory but later on revoked the NOC," a person at Pakistan’s IMGC Entertainment said.
Mobasher Hasan, who heads the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC), said that the decision to not screen the movie was taken by the information and commerce ministry. "The film was never brought to us," he said.
He also said that the ministry had also asked the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) to ensure the movie was not shown on cable throughout Pakistan. IMGC Executive Director Abid Rasheed claimed ‘Neerja’ had some “anti-Pakistan elements” and even showed Muslims in “poor light”.
Pakistan previously banned big banner Indian films such as ‘Haider’, ‘Phantom’ and ‘Ek Tha Tiger’. Indian movies have done well in Pakistan since the country lifted a ban on them under former military dictator and President Pervez Musharraf.
Bollywood movies are generally credited for Pakistan’s booming film business and a revival of the country’s film industry.