NEW DELHI—Bollywood film "Tiger Zinda Hai," which has been refused the No-objection Certification for import into Pakistan, shows the country's national security and law enforcement institutions and agencies in a demeaning manner, according to the Pakistan censor board chief.
Pakistan's Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage on Thursday refused the grant of the NoC to the local distributor, Geo TV Network, for "Tiger Zinda Hai" on the recommendation of the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC), thereby banning the movie in the country.
"As per synopsis, reviews, and trailers of the film available in media, in the said feature film, our national security and law enforcement institutions, agencies, individuals and certain state symbols are being shown in a demeaning manner on which we have a 'no-compromise policy'," Pakistan’s CBFC's chief Mobashir Hasan told IANS via social media from Islamabad.
The Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif starrer is a sequel to the thriller "Ek Tha Tiger," which too was not released in Pakistan.
"(The) first film 'Ek Tha Tiger' was also banned in 2012 as it blatantly flouted the Code of Censorship of Films, 1980 under MPO (Maintenance of Public Order), 1979," Hasan said.
Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and produced by Yash Raj Films (YRF), "Tiger Zinda Hai" takes forward the story of two spies – one Indian and the other Pakistani – Tiger and Zoya, who join forces to battle terrorism. It is slated for worldwide release on Dec. 22.
Sulaiman S. Lalani, Executive Director, Geo TV Network, told IANS from Karachi that their preferred option was that "Tiger Zinda Hai" should have been allowed for import, presented to the censor board, and if any objectionable material was found against the interests of Pakistan/Islam, the exhibition of the film shouldn't have been allowed then.
Hasan explained: "It's the legal and administrative decision of the Ministry of Information to issue the NOC or otherwise after closely examining the request of a distributor."
"Tiger Zinda Hai" has been a much-anticipated Bollywood entertainer in a year which has not seen too many blockbusters. Besides the buzz around its one-of-a-kind action sequences and exotic locations, the on-screen reunion of Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif after a gap of five years, has piqued the interest of Bollywood buffs.
Owing to Khan’s fan following in Pakistan, there was a high level of interest in the movie there, Lalani said.
"Pakistan loves Salman Khan. 'Sultan' was a mega blockbuster and minted approximately $3 million at the box office in Pakistan. His 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' was also loved by fans here," Lalani said of the actor, who is amongst Hindi cinema's best-known stars.
"Tiger Zinda Hai" director Zafar had told IANS in an earlier interview that it's largely a story about humanity.
"The film is a very human story... it is not political at all. The idea is that when there is a fight between right and wrong, what is at stake, is humanity. And there's nothing bigger than humanity," he had said.
For years, Hindi films have regaled Hindi movie buffs in Pakistan. The country had banned Indian movies in 1968, but that gave a fillip to pirated content. The ban was lifted later.
Eventually, the popularity of Bollywood almost eclipsed the local movie culture in the country, but in the past few years, filmmakers and actors from Pakistan have come into their own.
In February this year, "Kaabil" became the first big Bollywood entertainer to be released in Pakistan after its cinema owners gave up a month-long self-imposed ban to resume screening of Indian films.