Despite approval from the censorship board of India, the screening of The Legend of Maula Jatt has been postponed.

Islamabad, Pakistan – The release of the Pakistani blockbuster The legend of Maula Jatt in India has been postponed, according to sources close to filmmakers, causing the screening of the first Pakistani film in India in more than 10 years.

The postponement comes as Hindu far-right groups in India have threatened to oppose the release of the film which has so far grossed more than $10 million at the box office and has become the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, sources confirmed that despite approval from India’s Central Censorship Board, the film was not shown on December 30 as previously planned.

“The film received its approval from the censorship board, but its release was halted for unknown reasons,” a member of the team behind the film confirmed to Al Jazeera.

The sources said that the distributors are looking for a new release date.

Al Jazeera also requested comment from an official from Zee Studio, which has acquired the rights to the film in India, but the request was denied due to the “sensitivity of the matter”.

INOX Leisure, an Indian cinema chain, announced on December 26 that the film will be screened in the northern Indian state of Punjab and selected theaters in the capital New Delhi. they were informed by the distributors that the film’s release has been postponed.

“We have been informed by the distributors that the release of the film has been delayed. We were told this two to three days ago. No further date has been shared with us,” an official of multiplex chain INOX told PTI.

The Indian censorship board has so far not issued an official statement on the reasons behind the delay in the release of the film, which could have been the first Pakistani film in 11 years to be released in India.

Directed by 38-year-old Bilal Lashari, The Legend of Maula Jatt was released worldwide in October this year to worldwide acclaim.

Tense bilateral ties

The film, the adaptation of the 1979 cult classic Maula Jatt, stars Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, both of whom have previously worked in Bollywood – India’s Hindi-language film industry.

But sources told Al Jazeera that it is “highly unlikely” that any of the cast, including Fawad and Mahira, will travel to India, even if the film is greenlit in the future.

Pakistani artists have been unofficially banned from performing in India since 2016, despite no formal ban, when 19 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack on an army camp in the town of Uri in Indian-administered Kashmir.

India blames Pakistanis for supporting armed groups fighting for Kashmir’s independence or merging with Pakistan – a charge Islamabad denies. Both India and Pakistan claim the Muslim-majority region in its entirety, but rule only parts of it.

Ties between the nuclear-armed South Asian countries deteriorated after the deadly attack on Indian soldiers in 2019, even sporting events between the two neighbors being suspended.

Islamabad cut off diplomatic and trade relations with New Delhi after India’s Hindu nationalist government stripped the Kashmir region of its special status in 2019.

Pakistani cricketers have been banned from the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s largest national T20 cricket competition, since 2009.

No Pakistani player has taken part in the competition, despite no formal ban, following the deadly November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

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