Pakistan has banned Bollywood's latest offering 'Lahore', a film its disappointed director Sanjay Puran Chauhan describes as a "different and balanced project" that has no biases.
"'Lahore' is not a typical Bollywood commercial film. It's not a Pakistan bashing film. It is a very different and balanced project with no negativity or biases against any country. We were very keen that it releases there (in Pakistan), but now we are disappointed," Chauhan told IANS.
Set against the backdrop of competitive kickboxing, the movie that releases worldwide Friday (March 19) shows how two countries torn apart by politics and religion bond in the sports arena. It aims to take a ringside view of India-Pakistan relations.
According to Chauhan, Pakistan-based producer and distributor Rashid Khawaja had told his producer Vivek Khatkar that he was keen to buy the rights of the movie. However, the Pakistan censor board objected to some dialogues and scenes and banned the release.
The director says he has not yet given a thought to tweaking the particular scenes to suit the tastes of the Pakistan censor board.
"We were told that the authorities aren't pleased with certain portions of the movie. But every film has certain tones without which it will lose its essence."
'Lahore' has been shot in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lonavala, Malaysia and at Lahore.
The director was keen to shoot the film in Lahore but couldn't do so because he was denied a visa. The producers then decided to hire foreign crew to shoot in Pakistan.
"We were kept on hold for a long time and they kept delaying the process. We got foreign crew, mostly from the Netherlands, and then we had to employ local crew. We could only take exterior shots as we were told by locals that shooting with Indian actors could create hassles," said Chauhan, who coordinated with the crew through phone or internet.
Made under the banner Sai Om Films Pvt Ltd, 'Lahore' has already traversed the festival circuit and won the jury award for best feature film at the 42nd World Fest International Film Festival, Houston, Texas, where the world premiere of the film was held April 20 last year.
Now the debutant director is hoping for a positive response from Indian critics and audiences alike.
Indian films, which have always had a massive following in Pakistan, have recently been screened in theatres in the country. In 2008, Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf lifted a nearly four-decade ban on Indian movies. This was followed by the release of 16 Hindi films.
Among the recent films screened across Pakistan are 'Paa', '3 Idiots', 'My Name Is Khan' and 'Right Yaaa Wrong'.
Indo-Asian News Service