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Old 17-Feb-2011
No music to their ears

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The performing arts council in Lahore has decided to ban all song and dance performances from Indian films citing "vulgarity". The council looks to promote only classical dances in Pakistani theatre.

The decision of the Lahore Arts Council (Lac) has, however, infuriated producers and artistes who believe Lac is trying to damage their business, the Express Tribune reported.

The decision was made to facilitate quality theatre, a council spokesperson said. Chaudhary Zulfiqar Ahmad, chairman of the Commercial Theatre Producers' Association, said: "How many films are made in Pakistan annually? From the handful that are made, how many have songs that we can use in our plays? If we don't have performances on Indian songs, and cannot include any dance performances other than classical dance, then what are we left with," he said.

"Some artistes and producers don't follow certain moral standards when including dance performances in their plays, they should be banned not the dances."

"Only a limited section of the audience appreciates classical dances, while large numbers of theatregoers have little or no interest in such performances. This ban will have major financial repercussions on commercial theatre," Ahmad said.

Suggesting a remedy to the "vulgarity" in commercial theatre, he said the council should strictly censor the scripts and not impose a ban.

"As far as Indian songs are concerned, many of them are now sung by Pakistani singers and are popular here. If we can allow them in the form of CDs, DVDs and screen them in our cinemas, why can't we include them in our stage plays," asked another producer on the condition of anonymity.

On the other hand, popular Pakistani artistes like Samina Ahmad and Usman Peerzada are supporting the ban on Bollywood dance performances.

"Quite often, the dance performances in these commercial theatre productions are vulgar. The performances have no theme or relevance. It's better to ban such plays in their entirety instead of allowing them to have dances," Peerzada said.

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