KARACHI: After a smooth sail through promotions and pre-hype in Pakistan, the fate of Momal Sheikh’s Bollywood debut Happy Bhag Jayegi now hangs in the balance.
Having not received a go-ahead from Pakistani censors as yet, the film did not release in the country on its scheduled release date of Friday.
The film was submitted to the respective censor boards for certification last week. While a ban has not yet been slapped on the film as yet, the ball is no longer in the court of provincial censor boards.
The Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) could not arrive at a unanimous decision over the fate of the film due to differences between board members. To sort the confusion out, as per the regular proceedings, a full board review was called.
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“The full board had approved the film for public viewing with an 8:1 ratio in favour of the film,” CBFC Chairperson Mobashir Hasan told The Express Tribune.
While the film was set to premiere, the federal information ministry decided to review the certification notes of the film.
“Under the Motion Pictures Ordinance of 1979 and Censorship of Film Rules Act of 1980, the information ministry has the right to review the board’s decision,” explained the CBFC chairperson.
The ministry issued a letter to the CBFC, requesting the required details on Wednesday and the CBFC submitted them to the ministry on Friday. “Now the ministry will decide the fate of the film and not CBFC.”
Amjad Rasheed, head of the film’s distribution company Distribution Club (previously known as IMGC Entertainment), was equally puzzled about the fate of the movie.
“You need to call the CBFC and ask them about the delay. Even I have no clue about my film’s release.”
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An official of the Punjab Board of Film Certification told The Express Tribune their panel had no issues with the film. “We had reviewed the film and found it suitable for public viewing in Pakistan but we cannot issue a certificate because apparently the federal government has a few objections with it,” he said, requesting anonymity. No one from the Sindh Board of Film Certification was available for comment on the matter.
CBFC is no longer the unanimous body that decides the fate of films in Pakistan. Following the 18th Amendment, all provinces are supposed to have film releases certified on the provincial level.
This is why CBFC’s authority is restricted only to Islamabad Capital Territory and the cinemas that fall under cantonments. With the issues Happy Bhag Jayegi is facing, coupled with the recent ban of Maalik, a big question mark hangs on the actual role of the CBFC in Pakistan.
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