Cinemas in Bangladesh will boycott movies starring the nation’s top actor after he led protests against the first screening of a Hindi film in decades, an official has said.
Bollywood blockbuster “Wanted” opened in cinemas this weekend after Bangladesh’s censor board cleared its nationwide release, following a 50-year ban on Hindi-language films.
The screenings sparked protests outside cinemas in the Muslim-majority nation along with wildcat strikes by hundreds of Dhaka actors, directors and others, who said the release would cripple the local film industry, known as Dhallywood.
Actor Shakib Khan led the marches on cinemas, where protesters ripped up Hindi film posters and pleaded with fans queueing at ticket booths to boycott the film. He was quoted by a local newspaper on Thursday as saying that they will “stop Hindi films at any cost”.
Bangladesh cinema owners reacted sharply, saying they would not show any movies starring Khan and defended their decision to screen highly-popular flicks from neighbouring India on financial grounds.
“We’ve released Hindi films because we’re now facing (an) existential crisis,” said Saiful Islam Chowdhury, president of the Bangladesh Motion Pictures Exhibitors Association
Chowdhury said the country’s 350 film theatres “have decided not to show any films by Shakib Khan” along with Shawdagar and several directors.
A court last year ruled “Wanted” could be shown in Bangladesh, despite a prohibition on Hindi films dating back to a brief war between India and Pakistan in 1965 when Bangladesh was part of East Pakistan. The censor board gave the film the final go ahead in November for screening this year.
The government briefly lifted the ban in 2010 after caving into pressure from struggling cinemas, hundreds of which have shut down in recent years because of poor ticket sales.
But it was quickly re-imposed following furious protests by local actors and directors, who claimed the Bangladesh film industry was at risk from the imports.