The recent petition filed by Jamatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed challenging the exhibition of an upcoming Indian movie “Phantom” in Pakistan, is an interesting case, where there may be some merit to censoring or banning the film. The movie is apparently about the 2008 Mumbai attacks and global terrorism. Saeed has said the film contains disturbing propaganda against Pakistan using global terrorism as a pretext. The main antagonist of the film is named “Hariz Saeed” and evidently the character is inspired by the JuD chief’s life.

Since the issue of the Mumbai terror attacks is so closely linked with Pakistan and has been a point of intense disagreement and tension on the borders, it is probably best not to fan the flames. The film industry of India is underestimated by the Pakistani populace. With such a large amount of experience and expertise in story telling, an India film is not just selling “entertainment” when it is tackling the issue of Pakistan of terrorism. Propaganda exists even if it is presented with subtlety. Let’s not forget, that for most Indians, Pakistan is a country that should not have existed. If it didn’t exist, there would be no border control, no stranded people (or mute children in the case of the latest Bollywood blockbuster), no hate, no terror. We don’t need Saif Ali Khan or Salman Khan becoming our heroes, we have our own. There are countless such subtle messages that we miss in films.

On the other hand, it is unfortunate that there exist men like Hafiz Saeed, who have caused enough international anxiety to have villains based on them. No one is making a film in India about, say, Imran Khan, or Edhi Sahib, or Zardari, or a variety of famous and interesting people. They are making films about people who matter to them… the terrorist bogymen. It would be dangerous for a Pakistani cinema to show a film that portrays a Hafiz Saeed-like character, not just because it is Indian propaganda, but also because no cinema want to be on the wrong side of the JuD.