Mumbai Festival Bows to Pressure, Drops Pakistan Film Classic

Patrick Frater
Variety

The Mumbai Film Festival has scrapped its planned screenings of “Day Shall Dawn” (aka “Jago Hua Savera”,) a 1958 Pakistan-made movie that it had previously selected and announced in its retrospectives section.

“Given the current situation, the JIO MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star has decided not to programme ‘Jago Hua Savera’ as part of the Restored Classics Section,” the festival said in a brief statement circulated to Indian media and emailed to Variety.

The announcement was not posted on MAMI’s festival website, and the website was quickly edited to remove any reference to “Jago Hua Savera.”

The decision appears to be a reflection of the social and political tensions between India and Pakistan since a border incident a few weeks ago. As a reaction to the military skirmish the powerful Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) called on its members to stop working with Pakistani talent and technicians until the current political tensions ease.

Separately, political party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena called for all Pakistani artistes to leave India and that their films be banned.

On Saturday, a non government organization called the Sangharsh Foundation filed a police complaint against the festival for its proposed screening of “Day Shall Dawn.”

The release of several current Indian films is now in doubt as a result of the unofficial ban and the growing social tension. One of the highest profile of those, Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” has a censor’s release but the Cinema Exhibitor’s Association is trying to block it because one of its stars is Pakistani.

“Day Shall Dawn,” directed by AJ Kardar, is a black and white drama about the everyday life of fishermen in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), and was considered an early example of experimental film making in Pakistan.

The film was recently digitally restored and screened this year in the Cannes Classics section of the Cannes Film Festival. It has subsequently had screenings in London and Edinburgh.

U.K. newspaper The Guardian recently wrote: “Curated sensitively, screenings of ‘Day Shall Dawn’ could foster dialogue between pluralist, progressive forces within the [Pakistan and Bangladesh].” In another twist, the film’s production was a rare example of India-Pakistan collaboration.

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