There’s no doubt that Pakistanis love Bollywood movies. But with increasing tension between the neighbouring countries, it’s no longer easy to find a Bollywood movie playing at a theatre in Pakistan. So the option is to find cheap pirated CDs from CD shops that dot every locality in the cities of Pakistan.
However, some love Bollywood a little too much, and CDs just don’t cut it.
One such person was a 21-year-old man from Swat in Pakistan. Abdullah, a resident of Shahdara Watkey area of Mingora, and a big fan of Bollywood wanted to meet the Indian stars. He left his house on May 24 and reached Wagah border the next day. He was lodged in Amritsar jail after he crossed over without a visa or other documents.
Now, his family members are making frantic appeals for his release.
On Saturday, Abdullah’s father Zarawar Khan and his elder brother held a press conference in Mingora pleading for his release.
“From his childhood, Abdullah was impressed by Indian movies and was a staunch fan of Indian actors Shah Rukh Khan, Amir Khan and Kajol and always wanted to meet them,” his brother said at the press meet, as quoted by Dawn.
However, Abdullah’s family did not take him seriously.
“He seemed mentally unstable and innocent. He had crossed the border in the hope of meeting Bollywood stars,” Gharinda SHO Sukhraj Singh Dhillon told Indian Express.
The 21-year-old’s family has appealed to the Indian authorities to release him as a ‘goodwill gesture’.
The first time screening Bollywood films in Pakistan was banned outright was in 1965, after its war with India. The ban continued until 2007, when it was lifted by military dictator General Pervez Musharraf.
After that, Bollywood became popular among Pakistanis.
But, the often diplomatic tiffs has an effect on the film industry.
Last year, following an attack on an Indian military camp, in which four suspected Pakistani militants killed 17 Indian soldiers, tensions spiked. Pakistan artists were expelled from Bollywood and in a tit-for-tat response, Pakistan banned the screening of Indian films.
Eman Bint Syed, the Karachi-based producer of Jalebi, a 2015 film inspired by Hollywood movies directed by Quentin Tarantino, told South China Morning Post in an interview that Pakistanis identify with the characters in Bollywood films. “If you ban them, people will watch pirated DVDs. It’s unfair to punish audiences. It would be better to let the Pakistani film industry grow with Bollywood, rather than allowing the money to go to pirates,” she said.