January 28th, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
The Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) has refused to clear the film on Javed Iqbal, the serial killer of ‘100 children’ and has stopped it from being screened over objections that it would distort the image of Pakistan, the board’s chief told Voicepk on Friday.
In a unanimous decision last month, the board said the biopic crime thriller would distort the country’s image of Pakistan, CBFC chairman Arshad Munir said in response to a question about the reasons behind the refusal to clear the movie’s release in the federal capital territory.
“It is glorifying and highlighting a heinous crime,” Munir said. Besides, the CBFC had also objected to distortion of facts in the film starring Yasir Hussain and Ayesha Omar. “The story distorts the facts and degrades the image of police,” Munir said in his response.
‘Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story’ however did premier in Karachi on January 25. The film was scheduled for theatrical release in cinemas in Punjab and Sindh on January 28.
Punjab govt’s decision challenged in LHC
On the other hand, Abu Aleeha, writer and director of the film, told Voicepk that they have filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against the Punjab government’s decision to halt screening of the movie just two days earlier to its release in cinemas across the province.
“The LHC is expected to take up our petition on Monday,” Abu Aleeha said. On January 26, the Punjab Information Ministry informed the film’s producer that the provincial government has decided to re-examine the film ‘in the wake of persistent complaints from different quarters’.
The ministry directed the producer not to release the film till the decision of the re-examination committee, adding that the ‘time and place of re-examination will be intimated later on’.
Aleeha said a four-member panel of the Punjab Film Censor Board had earlier cleared the film for release in cinemas across the province, adding that the Sindh Censor Board also cleared the biopic for screening. He said the government’s decision to halt screening and re-examine the movie was against the law. “Once a censor board clears a film for release, it cannot take back the decision,” the director pointed out. Surprisingly, the decision was made just after the movie premiered in Karachi and was set for release two days later, he added.
Responding to reports that the Punjab government’s decision to halt screening might have been influenced by the CBFC not clearing the film, Aleeha said the CBFC’s decision not to clear the movie for screening had no binding on the provincial film censor boards in Punjab and Sindh.
“The CBFC clears films for release in the Islamabad Capital Territory and Cantonment Boards,” he explained. Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have not established their provincial film censor boards but often follow the decisions of the federal CBFC.
Aleeha said they had not filed a review of the CBFC decision as there is only one cinema in the federal territory. “We had clearance from censors in Sindh and Punjab and thought we would file a review with CBFC once we got an overwhelming public response in screenings in Sindh and Punjab,” he said.
In interviews prior to the film’s premiere, the writer and director had clarified that the movie in no way glorifies the psychopathic child killer.
Aleeha said the Punjab Film Censor Board, which had cleared the film last month, did great injustice to the film makers by halting its screening a couple of days before its release.
Actors Yasir Hussain and Ayesha Omar also expressed their dismay at the sudden Punjab government’s refusal to screen the film in the province. “The reason for the ban is beyond understanding,” Hussain said in his Instagram post. Whether cinemas in the country were to show only cricket matches and TV dramas or independent film makers would get any chance, he questioned.