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Big blow to Mahira Khan, Raees gets banned in Pakistan on ‘religious’ grounds

Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) has stopped the release of Shah Rukh Khan's film.

Keyur Seta

Last week, with Sanjay Gupta’s Kaabil, India and Pakistan resumed cinematic ties. It became the first Indian film to be screened across the border in many months. Indian films were temporarily banned in Pakistan after relations between both nations soured due to the Uri attacks that killed at least 19 Indian soldiers last year. 

The Hrithik Roshan-starrer was supposed to be followed by Raees and few other films like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Dangal. However, in a surprising turn of events, Raees has been banned in Pakistan for “inappropriate” portrayal of Muslims. 

Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) took the decision as, according to them, “the content undermines Islam, and a specific religious sect. (It also) portrays Muslims as criminals, wanted persons and terrorists.” 

Rahul Dholakia, the director of Raees, is obviously disappointed with the decision. He took to Twitter and wrote, “#raeesbanned in Pakistan ??? Outraged !! Dumbfounded!!” 

Decision of allowing the screening of Indian films in Pakistan was taken recently by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after a recommendation by a committee. A recent statement from the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage said, “The Federal Government is pleased to continue the existing open policy to display all international movies (including Indian films) in Pakistani cinemas.” 

But CBFC’s decision has come as a setback to the Pakistani audience as they were looking forward to the film’s release as Shah Rukh Khan has a big fan following there and Pakistani actress Mahira Khan makes her big Hindi film debut.

Earlier, Mahira was disappointed for not being able to promote the film in India. She was keenly looking forward to the film’s release in her country. She recently said in an interaction, “You don’t understand how much we wanted this (lifting of the ban on Indian films) to happen. Raees is a big film and everyone was asking me about it (release). Everyone was waiting. It will do amazing in Pakistan.” 

The decision by the Pakistani censor board comes as a big blow to Mahira, who was hoping that her fans in her home country get see Raees on the big screen. She had earlier said: "Everyone [in Pakistan] was waiting for it to release here like anywhere else across the world. It will do amazing in Pakistan."

The actress hasn't reacted to the ban on Raees yet. 

There are reports of Raees’ pirated version is widely available in Pakistan. Which means a section of the audience has already watched the film. 

It is to be seen how the other Indian films, which are lined up for release, fare at the hands of Pakistan's CBFC.