A new Indian blockbuster has been banned in Pakistan for allegedly misrepresenting Muslims. Bollywood megastar, Shah Rukh Khan, himself a Muslim, has millions of fans all around the world. But his new film “Raees,” about a bootlegger turned politician, has hit a roadblock with Pakistan’s censors.
The movie –scheduled for release last Sunday –has been banned because of its “inappropriate depiction of Muslims,” according to Pakistan’s Central Censor Board.
The board also said the movie “did not show the real face of Islam” and focused on a “sect of Muslims as bad.”
Pakistani cinema fans, critics and the industry’s other stakeholders have given a mixed reaction to the ban on the screening of the Shahrukh KhanMahira Khan starrer, Raees in the country after the government this month gave the goahead to the screening of Indian films. Some cinema fans and critics lashed out at the ban imposed by the Central Film Censor Board but others supported the ban which comes at a time when Pakistani cine goers were treated to the release of latest Indian films, Kaabil and Ae DilYehMushkil after the government nod.
Noted film critic, OmairAlavi said the ban had come as a disappointment to Shahrukh Khan and Mahira Khan fans and also to cinema owners. “It is disappointing and many cinema owners were looking forward to recouping their losses they incurred since the ban on Indian films last September,” he said. Fans were also active on social media and slammed the ban decision especially diehard fans of Shahrukh Khan and Mahira Khan.
The Chairman of the Central Film Censor Board, Mobashar Hassan when contacted by PTI said the decision to ban Raees was taken after proper discussions. “The consensus was that the film has an anti-Islam and anti-Muslim theme and portrays Muslims negatively. Plus its portrayal of a particular sect could also lead to reactions,” he said.
Hassan said the ban on Raees didn’t mean it would affect the release of other Indian films. “We decide to give certification on basis of the content and theme of the film,” he added.
A report in the Dawn newspaper claimed that the provincial censor boards in Punjab and Sindh were at odds with the country’s central censor board over the ban on Raees.
It quoted a source who said the Punjab and Sindh censor boards had passed the film without any cuts but said that they would issue a certificate after consulting the Central Board of Film Censors in Islamabad.
After a full-board meeting which is usually reserved for appeals, however, the central board decided not to issue Raees a certificate on Monday for ‘inappropriate content’.
The General Manager marketing of the Cinemax chain of cinemas said he had no problems with the decision of the Central Censor board. “They have explained to us what prompted them to ban ‘Raees’ and we see their point because they have to take into consideration many things while clearing a film. They must have thought the issue through,” MohsinYaseen said.
He said they were looking forward to making good with other releases like Pakistani film, “Balu Mahi,” Akshay Kumar’s “Jolly LLB” and Hollywood thriller, “John Wick” this month. Nadeem Mandviwalla a well-known producer, cinema owner and distributor said if the government had found Raees unfit for the exhibition they were okay with the decision. The members of the Censor Board debated the subject therefore automatically we have to rely on that.
As far as business is concerned, there are other films which are going to be released soon. He also said that Kaabil and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil were already doing good business in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, it took just nine days for Raees to become the fourth highestearning title of Shah Rukh Khan’s career in India and 11 days for Kaabil to rank as Hrithik Roshan’s fourth film to surpass 100 crore ($15 million). Despite their head-to-head clash the Hindi hits maintained momentum remarkably well in their second weekend , overshadowing the launches of Tamil fantasy action comedy Bogan, which stars Jayam Ravi and Arvind Swamy, and Jackie Chan’s action-adventure Kung Fu Yoga.
Word of mouth clearly is sustaining Raees and Kaabil, which is sure to continue although the Akshay Kumar comedy Jolly LLB 2 will likely prove to be tough competition this Friday.
Last Thursday, Shah Rukh’s crime thriller directed by Rahul Dholakia raced past SRK’s 2012 hit Jab Tak Hai Jaan, which fetched 122 crore ($18.3 million), and on Sunday reached 147.46 crore ($22.1 million) from 2,700 screens.
So today the tale of a ruthless boot-legger in prohibition-era Gujarat in the 1980s who is confronted by an honest cop (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) overtook Dilwale’s 148 crore ($22.2 million) haul in 2015 to become King Khan’s third biggest hit. Beyond that are Happy New Year, which minted 205 crore ($30.8 million) in 2014, and his all-time champ, Chennai Express’ 227 crore ($34.1 million) in 2013.
In the rest of the world the co-production between SRK’S Red Chillies Entertainment and Excel Entertainment has rung up an estimated $13.3 million including $3.8 million in the U.A.E./Gulf States, $3.3 million in the U.S., and, per ComScore, $638,000 in Australia.
Roshan’s love story/revenge drama directed by Sanjay Gupta surpassed his 2011 hit Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’s 90 crore ($13.5 million) last Thursday and outscored Raees for the first time on Saturday as it surged past 100 crore after adding 200 screens in the second weekend, up from 2,200. Producer Rakesh Roshan had complained that exhibitors and distributors had promised to allocate an equal number of screens for both titles but on the day of release on Jan. 25 he discovered the count favored his rival 60:40.
On Sunday the total climbed to 118.14 crore ($17.7 million), overtaking Hrithik’s Agneepath’s 115 crore ($17.3 million) in 2012 to take third place on his top-earners list behind Bang Bang’s 181.03 crore ($27.2 million) in 2014 and Krrish 3′s $244.92 crore ($36.8 million) in 2013.
So the film co-starring Yami Gautam, brothers Rohit and Ronit Roy, Narendra Jha and Girish Kulkarni is now making profits for its Indian distributors who paid 42 crore ($6.3 million) for the rights. The production budget was a moderate 35 crore ($5.2 million) plus 15 crore ($2.2 million) in P&A. The producer recouped 45 crore ($6.7 million) from Star TV for the satellite rights, 10 crore ($1.5 million) from T-Series for the music rights and 15 core for the overseas rights.
The massive combined success of the two Republic Day offerings, Raees and Kaabil and the anticipated release of Akshay Kumar-starrer Jolly LLB 2 next Friday have together made it a relatively dull week at the movies.
Director Zaigham Imam’s Hindi movie Alif starring Neelima Azeem, Danish Hussain, Pawan Tiwari and Bhavna Pani has many good points, says The Times Of India, along with a strong story, which shows how an orthodox approach to education can ruin lives. However, execution and performances fail this film from rising above being anything more than a film with a ‘message’. The actors are shrill and over-the-top in their performances barring Hussain, who plays it so understated that his emotions barely come through. Azeem is the only saving grace, as she brings a certain warmth and humanity to this bleak landscape.
Chinese-Indian co-production Kung Fu Yoga starring Jackie Chan, Sonu Sood and Disha Patani directed by Stanley Tong combines kinetic stunts with exotic locations on a very grand scale, says Variety magazine. It would have been even more fun to see Chinese martial arts infused with yoga poses, or fights between Chan and yoga masters, but Tong’s screenplay is too heavily skewed toward mainland Chinese tastes to explore such ideas, marking a missed opportunity for an original mashup of Bollywood and Chinese entertainment styles. As the leading man, Chan keeps the ball rolling with an assortment of neat acrobatic tricks and martial arts sparring, but his days of liferisking physical exertion are over. The three gorgeous Indian actors, none of them big names, give feisty turns in skimpily written roles.