“Bollywood has a lot of influence in Pakistan"
While Bollywood has the potential to bridge cultural gaps and foster understanding between India and Pakistan, it is important to recognise that the impact of cinema on diplomatic relations is nuanced.
Bollywood films, with their vibrant storytelling, music and cultural representation, have created a shared cultural experience that resonates with audiences on both sides of the border.
There have been instances where Bollywood films have focused on cross-border love stories and unity which have gained positive feedback from both countries.
Such films have the power to highlight commonalities which foster a sense of unity.
However, it must be acknowledged that the impact of cinema on geopolitical relations is limited.
While Bollywood can contribute to people-to-people connections, it cannot replace the need for diplomatic efforts and dialogue at the government level to address complex issues between the two nations.
Journalist Ghazi Salahuddin said:
“Bollywood has a lot of influence in Pakistan primarily because its films are widely watched in the country for their quality and content, something that we lack.
“They have adapted to technological advancement as well.
“They have a big international market due to which they can afford to experiment and spend a lot of money on their screen projects.”
Filmmaker Shoaib Sultan explained: “Indian and Pakistani movies have song and dance sequences. It is a massive industry.
“Our audiences watch it because it is entertaining and larger than life.”
Nadeem Mandviwalla commented: “Until we [in Pakistan] start making movies, people will keep watching Bollywood.
“These are the only two countries in the world which make movies the same way. With song and dance sequences, dresses and language etc.
“They call it the Hindi language and we call it Urdu. They use 80% Urdu words in Hindi.
“Our people know so much about India because of their exposure to its films.
“For the last 40 years, the Pakistani public has been watching Indian content.”
“But since Pakistan banned Indian movies in 2019, exhibitors and distributors in the country have had a tough time.
“We [as exhibitors] tell our government that there are only two choices.
“Either allow Indian content or make at least 100 to 150 movies a year, which will help the Pakistani film industry stand on its feet.”
Bollywood has the potential to create cultural bridges and enhance people-to-people connections between India and Pakistan.
It is just one aspect of a broader spectrum of factors influencing diplomatic relations.
Real progress in improving country ties requires concerted efforts from both government and societies.