The Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) on Friday announced that movies featuring Pakistani actors won’t be screened in single screen theatres in Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat.
The decision comes ahead of the scheduled release of Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, which stars Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. While it was slated to hit the screens on October 28, the COEAI decision has cast doubts if it will see the light of the day any time soon in western India.
COEAI President Nitin Datar told IANS after a meeting of members: “We have nothing against Karan Johar. It’s just that we won’t allow the release of any film which will have Pakistani actors or technicians in it.”
The COEAI has over 400 members.
“We have collectively taken this decision that we won’t showcase such films in our single screens. As of now, we will be following this decision in Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat,” Datar added.
The decision comes amid India-Pakistan tensions following a terror attack which killed 19 Indian soldiers. The Indian Army then carried out surgical attacks on terrorist launch pads in Pakistani territory.
Datar added: “We can’t say we are banning these films. It’s just that we are suspending all these films.
“In future, if our (India’s) relationship with Pakistan gets better, we will work towards it. But looking at the current scenario, we have to take this decision.”
Reacting to the decision, veteran actor Om Puri, who has worked in Pakistani films, told a TV news channel: “First, I’m the citizen of this country. Whatever my government will say, I will agree.”
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri said the “public outrage” over recent incidents between India and Pakistan had led to the decision.
“If only Pakistani actors had given even a small statement condemning the act of killing people, I don’t think people would have been so outraged,” Agnihotri told IANS.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had earlier warned Pakistani actors to quit India and said it would not let movies — including “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and “Raees” — to release.
Following that, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association had passed a resolution to disallow Pakistani artistes from working in Indian films.
In response, Pakistani exhibitors had reportedly decided not to screen Indian films in their cinemas.