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Pakistan Bans Indian Films as Asian Neighbors Talk of War

The film industry, which plays a prominent role in both India and Pakistan, has felt the immediate impact of warlike tensions being ratcheted up between the South Asian neighbors and rivals.

The Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association says it is boycotting Indian content, and that no Indian film will be released in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has asked Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to act against Indian-made advertisements.

The two countries have repeatedly been to war over the disputed province of Kashmir, since the two countries gained their independence in 1947. Tensions have flared in recent days after a squadron of Indian warplanes crossed the so-called “Line of Control” between the two countries in the early hours of Tuesday, and bombed what India claims was a training camp for terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad.

On Wednesday, Pakistan claimed that two Indian aircraft were shot down in Pakistani airspace and two pilots arrested. India reported that a Pakistani aircraft was shot down in Indian airspace and that an Indian helicopter had crashed near the border.

Bollywood launched its own preemptive strikes. Fox Star Studios India decided not to release hit comedy “Total Dhamaal” in Pakistan. Distributor Maddock Films cancelled the planned Pakistan releases of “Luka Chuppi” (set for March 1,) “Arjun Patiala” and “Made In China.”

The Federation of Western India Cine Employees called for a complete ban on artistes from Pakistan and punishment for Indian producers who employ Pakistani talent. Pakistani singers are very popular on Bollywood soundtracks. The two banned each other’s talent between 2016-17.

At a political level, there is now intense speculation whether India’s general elections, scheduled for April or May, will now be postponed by a “war emergency.” Alternatively, the war talk could boost the standing of nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Nationalism is already on the rise. The January 11 release of “Uri – The Surgical Strike,” which details an Indian army operation in Pakistan is a massive hit in India, grossing more than $42 million and continues to play in cinemas. On Wednesday, Sony also announced the production of “Major,” a tale of heroism by a soldier who died in the Pakistan-backed 2008 terror raids in Mumbai.

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