As the aftermath of Pulwama attack, All India Cine Workers Association (AICWA) announced a complete ban on Pakistani actors and artists working in Bollywood. This was not the first time India imposed a ban, they previously prohibited Pakistani artists from working in India after the incident of surgical strikes in 2016.
However it appears that it is in fact only Mumbai (Bombay), the tinsel town of Bollywood, which under the influence of the ruling party and pressure from the Indian right-wing group, adheres to the ban more strictly than the rest of the India. Resultantly, India has suffered from the loss of revenue it generated from Pakistan while Pakistan’s cinema industry also took a blow.
India’s Punjab on the other hand has openly collaborated with Pakistani actors. It appears that The All India Cine Workers Association is unable to exert their authority over Punjab as there is no such pressure from the ruling party of Punjab.
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India’s Punjabi film, Chal Mera Putt starred three Pakistani actors namely Iftikhar Thakur, Nasir Chinyoti and Akram Udaas. All three actors have made a prominent name for themselves as actors and comedians in Pakistan.
As per a leading Indian website Boxoffice India, Chal Mera Putt has become the all-time highest Punjabi grosser in the overseas market. The film touched new heights overseas which has never happened for a regular Punjabi Indian film as reported by Boxoffice India. In contrast, the film did an ordinary business in its domestic market.
The website further mused on how collaboration with Pakistani actors has wielded fruitful results for the film in the overseas market. Chal Mera Putt’s astonishing performance is proof that India and Pakistan’s collaboration on Punjabi films accounts for a win-win situation for both the countries.
The Sikh community is an ardent follower of Punjabi films. When Pakistan’s Punjabi cinema was at its pinnacle, our Punjabi films were faithfully being followed by the Sikh community. Iconic Pakistani Punjabi actors Munawar Zarif, Ali Ejaz, Sultan Rahi, Mustafa Qureshi and others always had a huge fan following among the Sikh community.
The Sikh community is particularly attached to Punjabi as even their religious books have been written in Punjabi. Whereas, Pakistanis living abroad came out to see this film because the film starred 3 Pakistani actors. While the film was well-received by the Pakistani audiences abroad, unfortunately Chal Mera Putt did not release in Pakistan.
Prime Minsiter Imran Khan has graciously opened up the Kartarpur Corridor for the Sikh community of India and truly won hearts. It is a fitting time now for the government to also consider allowing Indian Punjabi films to release in Pakistan. Perhaps now, the Sikh and Pakistani community can come together to revive the Punjabi cinema. We should consider collaborating and co-producing Punjabi films with the Sikh community.
The Punjabi communities of both the countries have high regards for each other. Both the communities share amicable relations and can surely benefit from each other. It is time for these communities to come together and promote art for art’s sake and distant themselves from all political motives. This collaboration can create a big market for Punjabi films overseas especially in Canada, Uk and the Usa.
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