Filmi cooperation

Now that the door to joint Indo-Pakistani film productions has opened, these films are sure to be a big hit – though not with everyone.

The release on 13 July of Indian director Mahesh Bhatt's film Awarapan (roughly translated as 'Wanderlust') in 22 cities in Pakistan was no ordinary event. There had been little hope that the Censor Board of Pakistan would issue a certificate to the film's co-producer, Sohail Khan, to allow the film's public screening. Even once that certificate was obtained, religious fundamentalist forces and associations of local film directors and producers issued multiple warnings against Awarapan's Pakistan release.

A strict warning against screening this "un-Islamic" film had also been issued by the leaders of Islamabad's Lal Masjid, where state security forces launched their early-July Operation Silence, to end the siege of the mosque by radical students and clerics. The clerics' opposition to the film was due to its depiction of a Hindu boy and Muslim girl falling in love, even though Islamic diktat prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men. The warning was issued by Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi, a hardliner who had in the past conducted public burnings of DVDs of Indian films. (Ghazi was subsequently killed in Operation Silence.)

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