Critics expected the film to be popular amongst its audience in Pakistan
Bollywood film Raees has been banned by Pakistan film board. No Pakistani cinemas will be allowed to show the film to audiences.
The smash hit film which released in India on 25th January 2017 stars Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan and Pakistani actress Mahira Khan. A Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) official revealed the news about the film on Tuesday.
A Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) official revealed the news about the film on Tuesday 7th February.
CBFC appears to have objected to the religious content of the film. Sources told Pakistani newspaper Dawn that “the content undermines Islam” and is “portraying Muslims as criminals”.
Mubahsar Hassan, the chairman of the Pakistan Film Censor Board, reportedly told AFP, that it “portrays Muslims as terrorists and violent people”.
An official told the BBC that the CBFC began reviewing the film on Friday 3rd February. As a result, they made their final decision for the ban on Monday 6th February.
This has come as a huge blow not just to the filmmakers behind Raees, but also its fans. Critics expected the film to be popular amongst its audience in Pakistan.
The film, directed by Rahul Dholakia, tells the story of Raees Alam who builds an impressive alcohol business.
Played by Shahrukh Khan, Raees is a gangster and mafia don. Set in Gujarat, the film takes place in a state where purchasing and drinking alcohol is legal.
This is yet another blow for Mahira Khan who plays alongside the famous Indian actor. Marking her first appearance in a Bollywood film, Mahira was already prevented from joining Shahrukh in India for promotions. Instead, she had to promote the film through Skype interviews.
Speaking to the BBC about the experience, she says:
“Of course, I feel bad. When you put so much effort and hard work in a project, you wish to see the results. I work with same dedication and zeal in all my projects, but Raees is very special.”
The film has so far received fantastic reviews from various media press. Dawn (who reviewed it twice!) says the film has “solid performances, power-packed action sequences and a strong storyline”.
Raees is also enjoying a fantastic run at the Box Office. It is nearing Rs. 300 crores worldwide in just 13 days, with an India Gross of Rs. 193.35 crores and Overseas Gross of Rs. 84.25 crores.
Director Rahul Dholakia commented on Raees being banned in Pakistan:
#raeesbanned in Pakistan ??? Outraged !! Dumbfounded!!
— rahul dholakia (@rahuldholakia) February 6, 2017
Fans have also expressed their dismay:
This ban on #Raees is an example of the kind of absurdities Pakistan's moral crusaders and grovelling bureaucrats can attain on their own.
— Hasan Zaidi (@hyzaidi) February 6, 2017
— Kaheesha Khan (@kaheeshak) February 7, 2017
Many fans felt bad for Mahira Khan. Writer Haji S Pasha said: “Ban on Indian movie Raees is a ban on #Mahira for her barely acting debut. Why Pak censor boards hate Mahira so much?”
This surprising news comes after reports in September 2016 when Indian films were banned by Pakistan. It followed the various tensions felt between the two nations. CBFC decided to lift the ban in December.
It’s hard to say whether the ban on Raees will follow a similar fate. However, the outcry shows that Raees will still have the support of the Pakistani public.