The Senate Functional Committee for Human Rights on Tuesday approved the long-awaited release of Zindagi Tamasha from Sarmad Khoosat, rejecting objections raised against the film.
PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who chairs the panel, said in a tweet that the committee had “found nothing wrong” with the film and the censorship board “had asked us to release post-Covid”.
He added that detailed “reasons” would follow later.
The Senate HR Committee has agreed unanimously with the decision of the Censor board to allow the screening of the film “zindagi tamasha”. We found nothing wrong with that. The sensor board asks us to release Covid’s post. Detailed reasons for following later.
– Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar (@Mustafa_PPP) July 14, 2020
The controversy surrounding the award-winning film, which had been premiered at the Busan International Film Festival, began when the trailer was released.
The film is expected to be screened in theaters on January 24 this year, but the government has stopped screening the film after Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) objected to its portrayal of a struggling cleric and threatened to protest across the country against his release. The government decided that the Islamic Ideology Council (CII) would be consulted to determine whether the film was suitable for public exhibition even though it had been cleaned twice by the censor council.
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) invites CII members to preview the film at the instruction of the government.
In February, TLP leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi announced that he would never let Zindagi Tamasha be screened even if the government cleaned it up. He added that the film would be released “over his body”.
In March, the Senate panel on human rights decided to address this issue and barred CII from reviewing the film.
The committee, chaired by Senator Khokhar, was briefed by officials of the central and provincial censorship councils. This directs CBFC to provide him with a copy of the film so that the panel can determine whether there is something unpleasant in the film.
Speaking to reporters, Khokhar said only parliament had the authority to refer matters to CII and no ministry could consult with the advisory body on its own.
He added that with the details provided in the camera briefing, there appeared to be no objections in the film.
Earlier, filmmaker Sarmad had written an open letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, claiming there had been an attempt to stop the film from being released even though it had been cleared by a central censorship board.
Irfan Ali Khoosat, director of Khoosat Films Private Limited, led a petition in the Lahore court against TLP for trying to ‘disrupt the smooth, public screening and release’ of the upcoming film.
The applicant determined that nothing could be rejected in the film that could damage the reputation of any party or religious group.
He explained that by releasing Zindagi Tamasha, Khoosat Films aimed to “bring a gentle image of society among the wider community, to reduce the pressure from the minds of the people in the country and to promote positivity in society”.
The petition was named the Sindh Film Censorship Board, the Punjab Film Censorship Board and the Markazi Film Censorship Board as respondents. He also clarified that the censorship council was “a mere (proforma) defendant and the plaintiff had not claimed assistance to them”.
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