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THE FILM industry stands divided over COEAI’s decision asking exhibitors to not release any movie featuring Pakistani artistes. The decision by COEAI, one of the constituents of Film Federation of India (FFI), an association considered the apex body of the film industry, has not met the approval of several other associations that govern the industry’s functioning.
FFI has distanced itself from the issue at the moment. The federation’s secretary, Suparn Sen, said, “FFI is a private association and does not govern the functioning of its constituent bodies. We may or may not endorse COEAI’s recent call.” FFI covers production, distribution, exhibition and post-production as its sectors, and also works closely with the government to promote Indian cinema, especially through film festivals.
FFI president T P Aggarwal, who also heads one of the oldest film associations bodies, the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA), said that in his role with the IMPPA, he will support the makers of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Aggarwal said he understands the public sentiment and does not endorse working with Pakistani actors “but on future projects”. “The films in production should not have to suffer. The only ones to bear the brunt of this decision will be Indians,” he said.
Besides IMPPA, Bollywood has two other key producer bodies: the Film and Television Producers Guild of India or Producers’ Guild, and Indian Film and Television Producers Council (IFTPC). More often than not, these bodies don’t see eye to eye on several issues.
While IFTPC chiefly has TV producers as members, the Producers Guild has on roll some of the top filmmakers. Mukesh Bhatt, the Guild’s president, is said to be leading the fight to protect the interests Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. One of the pioneers in introducing Pakistani talent in India, Bhatt remained unavailable for comment.
The other important association, Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), too, is keeping its distance from the issue. A trade union specific to Bollywood, Gujarati, Marathi and Konkani films, with 22 bodies, each representing a craft such as direction, screenwriting, make up etc, FWICE addresses grievances of its members under each of these bodies.
“Our job is to address issues and disputes regarding non-payment of salaries or impinging of workers’ rights…. We don’t have a say in censorship or issues such as these,” FWICE president Kamlesh Pandey said. The bigger players, like PVR, are members of Multiplexes Association of India, which functions independent of COEAI. However, they are yet to release a statement on the subject.