Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taare Zaamen Par all set to release in Pakistan

Pakistanis never tire of Bollywood and they couldn't be happier with two back-to-back releases of Indian movies, never mind the censor board's scissors.

After the racy action caper "Race" opened to packed houses last Friday, Pakistanis are eagerly awaiting Aamir Khan's debut directorial venture "Taare Zameen Par", which opens on March 28.

"Race" was the second Indian film after John Abraham's "Goal" to be released simultaneously in Pakistan and India.

It was smooth sailing with the censor board for "Taare Zameen Par", a children's drama about a dyslexic boy, which hit Indian cinema halls last year. But "Race" faced a bit of trouble with the censor board, which asked UTV Motion Pictures to cut some scenes before granting it a U/A certificate.

With "Taare's" release this Friday, UTV will become the only Indian company to have a third release in Pakistan in less than six months.

"Race" is being distributed in Pakistan by Karachi-based Eveready Pictures, which released 15 prints in nine cities, while "Taare" will be released by Geo TV, which plans a 15-print release.

"With these new films, UTV has released three Indian films in Pakistan and we are glad that the authorities have opened their cinemas to our films. Pakistan is slated to become an important overseas market for our cinema, with an audience that mirrors the sensibilities of our domestic audience," a UTV senior official was quoted as saying.

UTV, which is tapping the Pakistani market, has earned more in Pakistan with "Race" than the UAE, another important market for Bollywood films.

A committee of Pakistan's Senate or upper house of parliament recently recommended the lifting of the ban on Indian films and the importing of Indian films on a reciprocal basis.

Pakistan banned the screening of Indian films after the 1965 war with its neighbour. The ban has been relaxed in recent years for several movies, including the classic "Mughal-e-Azam" and "Taj Mahal".

Meanwhile, Indians can look forward to their share of Pakistani films with the release of the critically acclaimed Pakistani film "Khuda Ke Liye" on April 4, followed by "Khulay Aasman Ke Neechay" -- which is scheduled to open on both sides of the border on May 9.

"Khuda Ke Liye" will be the first Pakistani film to be released in India after a gap of about four decades. The film, produced and directed by Shoaib Mansoor, is about Muslims in a post-9/11 world. The film will be distributed in India by Percept Picture Company.

Compared to India's production of over 1,000 movies in a year, Pakistan's film industry makes just about 50 movies a year. Attendance in movie theatres has also been hit by rampant piracy.

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