July 15, 2020

By Haider Kaleem


The Senate Committee on Human Rights unanimously approved the long-awaited release of Sarmad Khoosat’s film Zindagi Tamasha on Tuesday.

In an official document received by Voicepk.net, the Chairperson of the Senate’s human rights committee, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar states that after an exclusive in-camera screening of the film ‘Zindagi Tamasha’, the committee members have unanimously agreed with censor board’s earlier decision to give the movie necessary certifications and clearance for screening as they found nothing contrary to the law, public decency and morality in the movie.

The film was supposed to be released in January but the leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Khadim Hussain Rizvi announced that he would never allow the movie to be released regardless of whether the government approves it or not.

This was followed by the countrywide protests by TLP after which the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) invited Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) members to preview the film on the government’s instructions even though it had already been cleared twice by the censor boards.

Renowned filmmaker Sarmad as a response also wrote an open letter to PM Imran Khan in which he shared about the attempts by some people to stop his film from releasing despite it being cleared by all the concerned institutions and authorities in Pakistan.

The Senate committee on human rights took up this issue in its meeting held on March 16 where the CBFC officials were unable to satisfy the senators on what grounds the film even referred to CII for approval in the first place as CII only has the authority to give recommendations on any matter once an official request is made to them following the procedures given in the laws.

Letter by the chairperson of the Senate’s Human Rights Committee also appreciates the CII’s decision to not proceed further on the matter upon committee’s request.

Referring to the series of events following the delay and hurdles in the release of the film, Khokhar also believes that out of fear of reaction from the extremist segments of the society, it has largely become common practice amongst government and judicial functionaries to refer matters to CII without following proper procedures as laid out in the constitution.

“This is akin to giving CII a de facto status of a supra body, allowing it to undue ingress into matters and areas it should not be concerned with in the first place,” wrote Khokhar.

When Voicepk.net asked about how the maker of this film feels, Sarmad Khoosat responded with “Alhamdulillah” (Praise be to God).

While Chairman of CBFC, Daniyal Gillani said that the board had already given a go ahead to the film and it did not withdraw its approval at any point hence there was no restriction from their side in the release of the film.

“We were asked by the Senate committee to organize an in-camera screening for them and we did, now as soon as we receive the letter, we will forward a request to the Ministry of Information again for approval,” added Gillani.

Earlier, the director of Zindagi Tamasha, led a petition in a civil court of Lahore against TLP for attempting to ‘interfere in the smooth running, public screening and release’ of his film.

The petition naming Sindh Film Censor Board, Punjab Film Censor Board and Markazi Film Censor Board as respondents urged to the court that TLP), who has no concern whatsoever with the above-said film is trying to interfere into the smooth running public screening/releasing of the above-mentioned film in cinema screen all around the country without any lawful justification.

Chairman of the CII, Qibla Ayaz told Voicepk.net that the council never had any issues with the film.

“It was a mistake by the team because we never read or discussed the matter and we still stand by our initial position on having no issues with the story of the film,” added Ayaz.

After the announcement of the approval, all the stakeholders and concerned bodies believe that any next step regarding the release of the film will be taken keeping in mind the situation created by the pandemic.