'Maalik' banned across Pakistan

Published: April 27, 2016


KARACHI / LAHORE: Three weeks after the Ashir Azeem directorial Maalik premiered at theatres across Pakistan, the federal information ministry has slapped a ban on the film.

According to a notification issued on Wednesday, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, and National Heritage declared the film ‘uncertified’ according to Section 9 of the Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979.

“The information ministry reserves the right to ban any film at any time. Maalik has been banned because it shows a former chief minister as a man of corruption and opulence,” a ministry official, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Azeem said he was informed about the ban by his distributor. “Even I don’t know why the film has been banned,” he said.

The curious case of the ‘Maalik’ ban

Maalik distributor Mirza Saad Baig said this is the first time a film has been directly banned by the government.

“Previously movies were banned by censor boards only. This is a very tricky situation. It is up to the producers to decide what to do next,” he said.

When asked about the reason behind the government’s decision, he added, “We have not been given any details as of yet.”

A Central Board of Film Certification official said the ban partially owes to a plethora of public complaints regarding the portrayal of different ethnicities in general and the country’s politicians, in particular.

In and out

The film was in hot waters of late. On Tuesday afternoon it seemed its fate was sealed when the Sindh Board of Film Certification (SBFC) placed a three-month ban on it. However, the decision was reversed within a few hours of the announcement.

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4 reasons ‘Maalik’ is the most absurd movie you’ll see this year

According to a copy of the notification issued by the SBFC, the decision was taken after it was discovered that the film was playing in cinemas without excisions suggested by the board. One of the major talking points of the notification was how the word ‘CM’ was not censored as directed during the certification process.

Following the initial ban, the SBFC faced even more scrutiny on social media forums considering the movie has been in theatres for the past three weeks. Feeling that the whole issue was needlessly blown out of proportion, SBFC General Secretary Abdul Razzaq Khuhawar explained the decision to suspend Maalik was made under the Sindh Motion Picture Act 2011.

“Unfortunately the post of inspector at SBFC has been vacant for quite some time so we don’t have someone who can visit cinemas to check if the films are being screened as per the guidelines. It was only after we visited a local cinema that we came to know about what was happening,” Khuhawar told The Express Tribune.

He clarified that distributors and producers of the film had been informed in advance to remove the words ‘CM’ from the movie.

“When we informed them about the excisions made by the SBFC panel, they had agreed to all of them as only after that could the film have been cleared for release.”

According to the general secretary, the producers and distributors had regretted the error on their part and rectified their mistakes when informed that the film was set to be banned for three months.

“They said it was an oversight on their side after which they made the requested excisions. So we lifted the ban as we don’t believe in hindering any film’s box office progress,” he added.

Azeem on the other hand wasn’t aware of any such requests by the censor board, “The only excisions they had asked us about were to remove certain words from the oath taking ceremony to which we complied. It was only a few days ago that they asked us to remove the word ‘CM’ so we agreed to that as well,” Azeem said.

“The film was banned on Tuesday afternoon and the suspension was lifted in the evening. How can we make the alterations in such little time and then distribute the prints for exhibition in cinemas. That’s not possible.”

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Cinephile
    Apr 27, 2016 - 7:23PM

    Pakistani film makers have the right to present all kinds of viewpoints in cinema — whether that’s Shoaib Mansoor’s dark depiction of the clergy and the right-wing or the life and times of a literary figure whose works were regarded by some to be utterly obscene. Maalik presented a rather realistic case of what happens to an ordinary man in Pakistan with principles, which I am pretty certain struck a chord with many people. The fact that the film’s fate is similar to the that of its characters who choose to battle the corrupt is certainly not a coincidence, it is a sign of an endemic malaise. Todaty is a rather dark day for free speech in Pakistani media and cinema in particular.Recommend

  • Aneel
    Apr 27, 2016 - 7:35PM

    Message from Govt. “They are not corrupt, actually the public is corrupt who votes these politicians in every election”.Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 27, 2016 - 7:36PM

    Good . It was a character assassination of political leaders by ISPRRecommend

  • ibs
    Apr 27, 2016 - 7:57PM

    Wow. So this is how our freedom is going to get hijacked? By governments who don’t like people highlighting corruption? The movie showed a “former sinned chief minister in bad light”. Are you kidding me? Recommend

  • Areeba
    Apr 27, 2016 - 8:03PM

    Which minister are they talking about?Recommend

  • Pakistan Needs a Batman
    Apr 27, 2016 - 8:17PM

    Shame on you, Pervez Rasheed and Ministry of Information!Recommend

  • Quresh
    Apr 27, 2016 - 8:28PM

    Supreme court is a best option.Recommend

  • shah
    Apr 27, 2016 - 8:29PM

    This is direct attack on freedom of speech. There are bad people in Pakistan and books, films, tv should be allowed to say it. This ban must be overturned by courts.Recommend

  • Zack
    Apr 27, 2016 - 9:09PM

    Screen it in India, more publicityRecommend

  • Apr 27, 2016 - 9:33PM

    They banned it ? oh, even if they didn’t…no body will be able to get this movie from Market…not even on the internet….because this is what we do.Recommend

  • Sam
    Apr 27, 2016 - 11:28PM

    Where is freedom of speech? Recommend

  • Kam
    Apr 27, 2016 - 11:38PM

    They say “even socrates was given poison” when refering to dictatorship. Socrates infact was poisoned by world’s first democracy. Democracy without freedom of expression is Socrate’s dictatorship.Recommend

  • kala_bacha
    Apr 27, 2016 - 11:48PM

    He should this movie online through Youtube, would love to see this outside the Pakistan. Recommend

  • Aleem
    Apr 27, 2016 - 11:57PM

    The useless Qaim Ali Shah and others like him. Good for nothing, the lot of them!Recommend

  • Mussa
    Apr 28, 2016 - 12:50AM

    Ask the federal government to shut up transparency International where Pakistan is ranked among the most corrupt countries on this planet? As the world don’t know our chief ministers are no saints and rest of public officials. Banning one movie would not help your image as not corrupt. Grow up.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Apr 28, 2016 - 12:59AM

    Freedom of information in Pakistan …my foot…they think every corrupt has related to PM or CM…we should salute this film maker to dare make a film on the issue of corruption which is no 1 reason of degradation of this society in addition to religious fanaticism and lack of good educational system for the general public.Recommend

  • Reader
    Apr 28, 2016 - 1:40AM

    Shame on the Government. What else corrupt politicians can do?Recommend

  • freed
    Apr 28, 2016 - 2:42AM

    You can’t handle the truth.Recommend

  • Zahid
    Apr 28, 2016 - 3:11AM

    Banned due to PML N corruption., the film giving awareness to public about corrupt Government and poor performance of current government
    It’s really very badRecommend

  • Mahmood
    Apr 28, 2016 - 6:21AM

    This is a secret ploy by the government to make this an instant hit! Want to make something super popular? Here’s a hint : ban it!Recommend

  • Saqib
    Apr 28, 2016 - 8:36AM

    Indian Propganda films against Pakistan are fine to show but this one is now allowed…….. Recommend

  • Mansha
    Apr 28, 2016 - 8:57AM

    So this makes the movie a must see, no?Recommend

  • Raaz e kunfayakun
    Apr 28, 2016 - 9:32AM

    shame on this SHAMELESS Govt !!!! These political terrorists cannot face their own core reality that why they have BANNED this movie !!!

    Pakistan Zindabad , Pak Fauj Paaindabad !! Recommend

  • A.Hussain
    Apr 28, 2016 - 10:43AM

    Individuals, regardless of what day clothes they wear, have a responsibility not to let their institutions be brought to disrepute, regardless of their personal preferences. Recommend

  • Adil
    Apr 28, 2016 - 11:05AM

    why, dear government, does this movie also speak the truth about you?Recommend

  • Procrastinator
    Apr 28, 2016 - 11:39AM

    Govt in Panic!!Recommend

  • Abdul Wahab
    Apr 28, 2016 - 12:24PM

    Why only against politicians whereas there are bigger blunders done by bureaucrates and men in Uniform why every time Politicians …… it was purely an ISPR funded movie … making ground for the boots …..huhRecommend

  • Qamber
    Apr 28, 2016 - 12:51PM

    Pakistan Democracy = Big Name with Small Heart … Recommend

  • brar
    Apr 28, 2016 - 7:08PM

    @Saqib: Indian Govt never requested to allow Indian movies in Pakistan there 120 crore Indians to watch these films, your cinemas screen Indian films because your own film industry is dead and it is your compulsion. An India actor like Shahrukh Khan gets IRS.70 crore and the full budget of any Pakistani film is not more than 7 crore there is no match/Recommend

  • Khaptaan
    Apr 28, 2016 - 8:17PM

    freedom of expression doesn’t mean that you generalized specific profession or group and start cursing it! well done Federal Gov.Recommend

  • Apr 28, 2016 - 8:51PM

    corruption of politicians is not the only cause of terrorism in Pakistan….police is also responsible because they allow people to start ill-legal businesses…..Pashtoon people of Pakistan are not involved in terrorism…..why cant Pakistanis understand that all the terrorism in Pakistan is being sponsored via Afghanistan ? Is it too difficult to understand ?????Recommend

  • S
    Apr 29, 2016 - 10:59AM

    Our film industry is not dead. It’s going very well right now. Our cinemas show all foreign films, not just Indian. I don’t think it’s your Govt’s job to ensure screening of Indian movies in Pakistan. It’s the job of your film industry and your directors/actors come here to promote their movies. Nothing wrong in it. They are more than welcome.
    By they way, what this has to do with current topic?Recommend

  • Khalid rashid
    Apr 30, 2016 - 5:10PM

    A non issue has become a political issue .govt will lift the ban but it is feared that some best scenes of the film like life style of CM as shown in the film would be cut ruthlessly .the whole theme of the film would be lost.I recommend to the producer/director not to accept any cut whatsoever .the film should remain as it is .best luck ashar azim &co.Recommend

  • Apr 30, 2016 - 5:32PM

    This movie is the true picture of corrupt politicians those are selected by thappa program (rigging) in election.
    Note: must see this movie and see original faces of mostly politiciansRecommend

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