Ben Child 

Bollywood’s Bond banned by Pakistan’s film censors

Agent Vinod, an Indian film about a secret agent who prevents the Pakistani secret services from detonating a nuclear bomb in Delhi, is accused of being 'anti-Pakistan'
  
  

An Indian film about a suave James Bond-style secret agent who thwarts a Pakistani secret services' bid to detonate a nuclear bomb in Delhi has been banned by censors in Islamabad.

The Pakistani Film Censors Board said the film, titled Agent Vinod, contained "anti-Pakistan material". Its producer and star Saif Ali Khan has defended the action thriller, which depicts a globetrotting Indian agent who battles rogue Pakistani spies and terrorists while dodging assassins.

"Our film shows that there are good Pakistanis and bad Pakistanis," he told AFP. "There are people who want to be friends with India and there are people who want to create trouble in India. We have shown both the sides."

Nevertheless Agent Vinod, which grossed $9.7m on its opening weekend in India, features a storyline in which the Pakistani ISI agency is seen colluding with the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group. In real life, Pakistani secret services have been criticised for apparently failing to spot that al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was living in a compound in the garrison city of Abbottabad in the north of the country for several years. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks which left 166 people dead in November 2008 and grounded peace talks between India and Pakistan for more than three years. The two countries have gone to war three times since independence from Britain in 1947 and came to the brink of nuclear conflict in 2002.

Indian films are popular in Pakistan, where the movie industry has suffered in recent years due in part to increasing Islamisation. Only 15 films were produced in 2011, while the number of cinemas has fallen from more than 1,000 in the late 1980s to just 230, according to Jalaluddin Hassan, secretary of the Pakistan Film Producers Association.

"What do you expect from Indian films?" Hassan said of Agent Vinod's banning. "There, leaders have been saying we do not need to wage a war on Pakistan. We will defeat them culturally."

Pakistani censors also banned the Indian Bin Laden-baiting comedy Tere bin Laden in 2010, apparently due to concerns that it would incite suicide attacks.

 

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