By Anusha Bhagat
On July 18th, the Lahore High Court (LHC) revoked a ban previously imposed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on the airing of Indian TV shows in the country. They said that the federal government had no objections to Indian TV shows being aired.
Selective patriotism in a global village
LHC Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that “the world has become a global village”, and added that Indian content with objectionable or anti-Pakistan content could be censored but there was no need for a complete ban.
On October 19th, 2016, the PEMRA had issued a notification imposing a blanket ban on all Indian content. The decision was made after the attack on an Indian Army base in Uri in September 2016, which had embittered relations between the two countries once again.
The ban on the telecast of Indian films was revoked in February 2017, yet the approval to air television dramas was not granted. Responding to this verdict, Leo Communications had filed a petition in the court claiming that it was beyond the authority of both the PEMRA and the Constitution to impose such a restriction. The broadcaster also accused the government of indulging in “selective patriotism” by allowing Indian movies to be screened in Pakistani theatres, but not Indian shows on the television.
Censoring Pakistanis offscreen
After India announced that its troops had launched “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) said it, too, was on a war footing.
It passed a resolution that said, “(The) IMPPA in their 87th annual general meeting passed a motion that says that no Pakistani will be hired by their producer members.”
The organisation’s president, TP Aggarwal, went even further, saying Pakistanis would be banned from the industry “forever”, and asked the Indian government to boot them out of the country.
The blurry line between art and politics
The cold shoulder that was given to Pakistani artists after the ban started a debate in the Indian media. The film fraternity remained divided into two, with one supporting the ban and the other denouncing it.
An article in the Guardian reported:
“Karan Johar, the director of Fawad Khan’s release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, said his ‘heart bleeds for the lost lives’ among India’s soldiers, but insisted a ban ‘is not a solution’. Indian Salman Khan, one of the world’s highest-paid actors, said his Pakistani colleagues had all been cleared for entry by the Indian government, and in any case, were ‘artists not terrorists’. Others walked a finer line. Veteran actor Anupam Kher said Pakistani artists needed to publicly denounce the attacks on Indian soldiers—as some, but not Fawad Khan, have done.“
Film director and producer, Vivek Agnihotri, noted that “art doesn’t take place in a vacuum. It takes place in a society”. These judgements force us to think about the nature of art, patriotism and the methods of showing solidarity and whether art as a human expression should stand divided by borders, nations, war or politics. Can we separate art from artists, entertainment from entertainers, or the act from the actors? Or should art be regulated taking note of the history that precedes it, the environment that moulds it, and the events that inspire it?
Featured Image Source: Pexels
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius