Mahesh Bhatt saddened by Pakistan banning Begum Jaan

The film is set during the Partition period, which is why it has run into trouble in the neighbouring country.

Mayur Lookhar

Mahesh Bhatt has always batted for peace between Pakistan and India, often inviting criticism here for having a soft corner for the neighbour. A respected figure across the border, Bhatt has been left disappointed with the Pakistani CBFC (Central Board of Film Censors) deciding not to release his film Begum Jaan.

The Vidya Balan-starrer Begum Jaan is a period film about commercial sex workers fighting against both the Indian and Pakistani governments/army to save their brothel. The film is set during the Partition period, which is precisely why the film has run into trouble in Pakistan.

Speaking to tabloid Mid-Day, Bhatt expressed his disappointment over the ban.

"I was told by my distributor that Pakistan, as a policy, does not permit the import of films dealing with the issue of Partition. I requested the key officer of the Pakistan censor board to at least view the film and then take a decision. I was assured that they would look into the matter. Sadly, I have not heard from them since. My distributor informs me that his office has been intimated that Begum Jaan won't be imported into Pakistan."

Bhatt has always enjoyed goodwill in Pakistan. A hurt Bhatt reminded his Paksitani admirers that he never looked upon them as a market.

"I did not look at Pakistan just as a market to sell my wares. Yes, when Begum Jaan was not viewed by their censor board, I was ridiculed by some of my close associates. That did hurt," added the veteran filmmaker

Begum Jaan will be released this Friday (14 April).

The Pakistani censor board had also banned Taapsee Pannu's Naam Shabana as the film portrayed some terrorists as Pakistanis.