Bangladesh has lifted a four-decade ban on Indian films in a bid to boost attendance at cinemas, a government minister said, drawing loud complaints from local actors and directors.
Films produced by India's huge Bollywood entertainment industry
have been banned from Bangladesh's cinemas since 1972, a year after the country's independence, to protect the local movie industry.
We lifted the ban to boost the cinema industry, Bangladesh Commerce Minister Faruk Khan told AFP.
Cinema hall owners, who have been clamouring to be allowed to show Indian films, said they expected to start showing Indian films shortly.
The number of cinema theatres has slid to 600 in 2010 from 1,600 in 2000 in the country with Bangladeshi films and soft-porn English-language films shown in movie houses failing to draw viewers.
Pirated DVD copies of Bollywood movies
circulate widely in Bangladesh in the absence of them being shown in cinemas and the films are hugely popular.
The lifting of the ban comes amid warming relations between India and Bangladesh after ties worsened between the neighbours when an
Islamist-allied government was in power in Dhaka from 2001 to 2006.
But not everyone supports the move. Indian films will completely destroy our film industry and our culture. At least 25,000 people will be jobless, said Masum Parvez Rubel,
a leading star and a co-coordinator of a newly created front against Indian films.