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Terrorist want Phantom banned today

It's a globally wanted terrorist wanting Phantom to be banned today, it was a government
agency which didn't like Agent Vinod yesterday, it could be an outraged TV host wanting to stop Indian movies altogether, or a pressure group demanding a ban on another Bollywood release tomorrow.

Whichever the aggrieved party be, there is bound to be something in every other Bollywood film that has a Pakistan context which will irk someone in Pakistan.And perhaps that can't be helped: Think of the most high visibility points which a filmmaker will have for reference if he wants a real-life peg in Indo-Pak relations, and you think of Partition, the Kashmir conflict, the 1965 war, the 1971 war, the 1999 Kargil conflict, and then the 26/11 terror attacks. While the past few years have seen a far higher proportion of cinema which does away with the anti-Pakistan pitch, portrays the people (if not the government) in a friendly light, and doesn't pander to hysteria or jingoism, there's an interesting footnote: Almost all the films with a nicer, sweeter storyline to them are based on fictitious stories, while almost all the ones that have an edgier, likely-to-be-banned storyline are based in one way or another on the half-a-dozen flashpoints in the not-so-friendly history that India and Pakistan share.

Phantom movie image

Since Phantom is, post-ban, part of the latter group, here's a quick recap of how that script has played out in Bollywood over the years:

The jingoistic post-war years, and the full-time ban Anti-Pakistan sentiment ran high after the wars of 1947-48, 1965 and 1971, and the prevailing distrust between the two countries in those years was mirrored by cinema.Hindustan Ki Kasam(1973), which was based on Operation Cactus Lily in the 1971 war, opens with the Pakistan Air Force raiding an IAF airbase and Raj Kumar swearing on the body of a dead crewman, "Jawaab dene aaunga, is jawan ki kasam, Hindustan ki kasam". The 'we will show them' sentiment continued through films like Aakraman(1975) and later films like Vijeta(1982) and JP Dutta's Border(1997). The multi-starrer, which did pretty well at the Box Office, zoomed in on the Battle of Longewala, from the romantic back-stories of its leading officers to their detailed, gory deaths, to the final moments leading to India's victory. The Indian Army itself questioned some of the specifics, but for the public, the emotion was enough. And given that Pakistan had banned the screening of all Indian movies after the 1965 war, no filmmaker had an incentive to paint a wider canvas that could appeal to audiences on both sides of the border. Even if you had a Pakistan-friendly tone to your movie, Pakistan wasn't going to let you screen it there anyway.


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