KARACHI: ‘Incensed’ viewers who threatened to ‘set cinemas on fire’ prompted the government to ban the action film ‘Maalik’, according to the country’s top film certification official.
The information ministry had declared the film ‘uncertified’ in an official notification on Wednesday. Some 24 hours after the notice was issued, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) finally explained why.
“We had received public complaints [against Maalik] from all over Pakistan, including places like Mardan and Peshawar,” CBFC Chairman Mobashir Hasan told The Express Tribune on Thursday.
“People were threatening to burn down cinemas and other public property, so we advised the information ministry to decertify the film to avoid a major catastrophe and law and order situation.”
Hasan said CBFC sent the ministry a situation report compiled using all complaints it had received against Maalik from all over Pakistan. According to him, the board identified six major objections against the film in the report.
“The film shows that there is lawlessness in the country and incites the common man to take the law in his hands,” Hasan said while sharing the objections with The Express Tribune. “The generalised portrayal of law enforcement agencies [in Maalik] gives the impression that police in the entire country is incapable and corrupt.”
“It gives an ex-Mujahid of the Afghan War who joins forces with the Taliban the respect of a hero or patriot during his funeral. A Pathan girl was shown being raped in the film and there was no need of so categorically defining her ethnicity,” he added.
“Viewers are given the impression that the political system as a whole is corrupt and incapable, and all politicians are busy minting money. Voters feel the film is a disgrace to their role in the political system,” the CBFC chairman said while outlining the final two objections.
Hasan admitted that CBFC had been receiving complaints about Maalik since its release three weeks ago and not just recently, prompting questions as to why the film, which was expected to be taken off in a few days due to lack of public demand, was banned just now.
“As far as the urgency of the ban is concerned, we took this measure keeping the sensitivity of the situation and public reaction against it in mind, and to keep the lives and property of the cinema industry safe,” he said when asked.
Maalik had been in hot waters since Tuesday when the Sindh Board of Film Certification placed a three-month ban on it. However, the decision was reversed within a few hours of the announcement.
A day later, the federal information ministry revoked its certification under section 9 of the Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979 which allows the government to decertify any film, even those running in cinemas, if public complaints are raised against it. The ministry did not give any reasons for decertifying Maalik in Wednesday’s notification, leading to speculation about what prompted the move.
An information ministry official, who spoke to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, had said the portrayal of a chief minister in the film as ‘a man of corruption and opulence’ triggered the ban. A CBFC official had said the ban partially owed to complaints regarding the portrayal of different ethnicities in general and the country’s politicians, in particular.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2016.