Sonam Kapoor-starrer “Neerja”, based on real incidents during the hijacking of the Pan Am Flight 73 at the Karachi airport in 1986, has been banned in Pakistan allegedly for showing the country in poor light.
In an unusual case the film has been banned here without even being submitted to the censor boards. The Ram Madhvani-directed movie revolves around Neerja Bhanot, a flight attendant on board a Pan Am Mumbai-New York flight, who was shot dead by terrorists during the hijacking while trying to save the lives of passengers.
Advertisements of the movie in some newspapers had shown its release across many cineplexes and single screen theatres in Pakistan on February 19 but it has emerged that the ministry of commerce had initially authorized the import of the film but later changed their decision.
“The ministry issued us a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to import the film and bring it to Pakistani territory but later on revoked the NOC,” an official with IMGC Entertainment said.
Mobasher Hasan, who heads the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC), said that the decision to not allow import of the film had come from the information and commerce ministry.
“The film was never brought to us for censorship,” he said, adding the commerce and information ministry had also asked the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) to ensure that “Neerja” is not shown on cable channels throughout Pakistan.
An official at the commerce ministry said that due to objectionable nature of the content which portrayed Pakistan in poor light the certificate to import the film was revoked.
IMGC Executive Director Abid Rasheed admitted that there were certain anti-Pakistan elements in “Neerja” and it showed Muslims in negative light.
“This might not have gone down well with local audiences,” he speculated.
Pakistan had earlier banned big banner Indian films like “Haider”, “Phantom” and “Ek Tha Tiger”.
Indian films have done well in Pakistan since a ban on their screening was lifted during the tenure of former military dictator and President Pervez Musharraf.
Bollywood movies are generally credited for the film business booming again in the country and also leading to a revival of the Pakistani film industry.