–Khoosat Filmmakers had moved court against TLP for meddling with release of movie
The federal government has decided to approach the Council of Islamic Ideology (CCI) to seek guidance after the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) threatened countrywide protests against a Sarmad Khoosat film, Zindagi Tamasha.
The film, approved by all three censor boards of the country, stirred a controversy after the radical Islamist party took an ‘offence’ to it, citing absurd reasons.
The film director took them to the court, pleading the film was approved by the censor board, but the TLP was “trying to interfere with the smooth running, public screening/releasing” of the movie.
Meanwhile, the Punjab and Sindh provincial governments blocked the release of Zindagi Tamasha in their respective provinces, citing potential public unrest.
“If the film is released for public exhibition, it may create unrest within the religious segment of the society and may deteriorate and be detrimental to the peaceful circumstances in the country,” read a notice issued by the Sindh Board of Film Censors (SBFC). The board advised all cinema exhibitors and distributors to avoid the film’s exhibition “till further decision” by it.
Hours after the notifications were reported, a pamphlet attributed to the TLP’s publications wing, announced the party’s decision to defer the protests in light of the government’s move to stop the film’s release.
However, in an apparent capitulation to the TLP, again, the federal government asked the filmmaker to halt the release of his movie.
In a tweet, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the Central Board of Film Censors notified the filmmakers not to release the film and decided to approach the Council of Islamic Ideology to deliberate over the matter.
KHOOSAT FILMS FILES PLEA AGAINST TLP:
Earlier in the day, Khoosat Films Private Limited filed a petition in a Lahore civil court against the TLP for “trying to interfere with the smooth running, public screening/releasing” of the movie Zindagi Tamasha.
In the petition, Irfan urged the court to “[restrain] the defendant permanently from interfering into the peaceful releasing/public screening of above-named film on big screen/cinema in all over Pakistan illegally, unlawfully”.
The petition says that by releasing Zindagi Tamasha, Khoosat Films aimed to “bring the soft image of the society among the public at large, to reduce the stress from the minds of peoples (sic) of the country and to promote the positivity in the society”. It further points out that the movie had been cleared for release by all censor boards in the country.
“The defendant (TLP) who has no concern whatsoever with the above-said film is trying to interfere with the smooth running public screening/releasing of the above-mentioned film in cinema screen all around the country without any lawful justification,” the petition read.
The petition has named Sindh Film Censor Board, Punjab Film Censor Board and Markazi Film Censor Board as respondents. It has been clarified, however, that the censor boards were “mere [proforma] defendants and the plaintiff has not claimed (sic) any relief against them”.
Judge Ziaur Rehman later issued notices to all respondents to appear before the court on Wednesday to present their arguments.
Last week, the filmmaker had addressed an open letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, claiming — without taking names — that there were attempts to stop his film from releasing despite it being cleared by the central censor board.
On Sunday, he posted another open letter, this time addressed to “my beloved Pakistan and Pakistanis”, questioning whether he should withdraw Zindagi Tamasha or not. He clarified in his letters that the film did not contain any objectionable content and had already been cleared by the censor boards.