The decision of Indian film fraternity to not release their movies in Pakistan following Pulwama attack will have a fleeting effect on the box office collections, believe experts. In the wake of the February 14 terror attack, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans, makers of films such as “Total Dhamaal”, “Luka Chuppi”, “Arjun Patiala”, “Notebook” and “Kabir Singh” have announced not to screen the movies in the neighbouring country.
Bollywood trade analyst Taran Adarsh says Indian films have great viewership in Pakistan but the collection from the country does not contribute much to the worldwide box office numbers of Hindi films.
He, however, believes it would be detrimental to the earnings of distributors in Pakistan.
“There are about 150 screens in Pakistan. Like us, they also love Hindi movies. They make very few films. Also, you cannot show Hollywood films round-the-clock. Indian films are a big addiction… It is going to be tough for them as it is a small market for us,” Adarsh told PTI.
Echoing Adarsh’s views, city-based film exhibitor Akshay Rathi says the exhibition sector of Pakistan will be more affected by the decision.
“The impact of Indian films not releasing in Pakistan will be massive on exhibition sector there, but it will be minuscule for Indian producers. Lots of consumption of Indian films happens through piracy and the kind of collection that comes out of Pakistan is very less as compared to other territories,” he adds.
According to Rathi, on an average, Hindi films do a business of about Rs 4-7 crores in Pakistan.
The biggest hit from Bollywood in Pakistan is Salman Khan’s 2016 Eid blockbuster “Sultan”, amassing Rs 37 crore. Salman’s 2015 cross-border drama “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” minted Rs 23 crore in the country.
Aamir Khan-starrers “Dhoom 3” and “PK” earned Rs 25 crore and Rs 22 crore respectively, while Shah Rukh Khan’s “Fan” grossed Rs 6.5 crore.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Bajirao Mastani” collected Rs 9 crore and “Race 2”, featuring Saif Ali Khan, did a business of Rs 4.93 crore.
Rahul Kadbet, Vice President, Programming at Carnival Cinemas, says, Pakistan contributes around “four to six” percent to the total collection of Indian films.
“The losses can be amortized from other avenues like exploiting new media platforms. A blockbuster Indian film hardly grosses four to six percent of Indian box office in Pakistan and for a regular film, it is even less.”
“This is actually a big loss for them because their industry depends up to 70 percent on Bollywood and Hollywood content,” Kadbet adds.
Following the blanket ban on Pakistani artistes, singer Atif Aslam’s song from upcoming film “Notebook”, produced by Salman, has been taken down. The track will now be re-recorded.
Director of the film, Nitin Kakkar says the attack was unfortunate and the team is already searching for a new voice.
“There’s only one song of Atif in the film and we will have to redo it. We all are Indians and it is unfortunate whatever has happened. But the show must go on as they say,” Nitin said when asked about who would be replacing Atif.
Pakistani actor-musician Nouman Javaid, who got a break in Bollywood with Mahesh Bhatt’s production “Jashnn”, believes ban on artistes in both India and Pakistan is not a solution.
“No artiste from any part of the world will support or indulge in any kind of harm or damage done to anyone. Musicians talk about love and peace. We need to put this ongoing cold war between India and Pakistan to rest. It is unjust and uncalled for. The two countries need to come together for peace. We cannot afford war,” he says.
Condemning the Pulwama attack, Nouman says both the countries need to come together to fight terrorism.
“We condemn it. The normal and beautiful Pakistani feels bad whenever there is something like this happens anywhere in the world. We have been a victim of a lot of bomb blasts. Both the nations need to come together to resolve the issue of terrorism. This needs to be sorted out. War is evil. We don’t want it,” he says.
Pakistani filmmaker Sohail Khan, however, believes Indian film industry will suffer losses as the country contributes a good share to the worldwide collections of Bollywood films.
“The Indian film industry makes a lot of money by screening movies in Pakistan. My idea is they make Rs 700-800 billion annually as over 100 films are exported and shown in Pakistan. So it is a big business for them and they will also lose money by this decision,” Khan told PTI.
“I think there will be a short term impact on film and cinema business here due to this decision but in the long term it would be good that Indian films are not shown in Pakistan,” he adds.
The director says no collective decision has been taken by Indian film associations on the future of releasing films in Pakistan.
“Only a few individuals have announced that they will not screen films in Pakistan. I have not seen any such collective decision by any association. I think it will not be very effective as there are people in India who would not like to lose market in Pakistan.
“Legally, Indian films are still banned in Pakistan and they are shown when a No- Objection Certificate is issued by authorities,” he says.
Prior to Pulwama attack, “Sanju”, “Simmba”, “Zero” and “Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi” were some of the big Indian films that released in Pakistan.