The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday approved the long-awaited release of Sarmad Khoosat’s Zindagi Tamasha, dismissing the objections raised against the film.
PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who chairs the panel, said in a tweet that the committee had "found nothing wrong" with the film and the censor board “has our go ahead to release post-Covid".
He added that a detailed “reasoning” would follow later.
Senate HR committee has unanimously agreed with Censor board’s decision to allow screening of movie “zindagi tamasha”. We’ve found nothing wrong with it. Censor board has our go ahead to release post Covid. Detail reasoning to follow later.— Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar (@Mustafa_PPP) July 14, 2020
The controversy around the award-winning film, which had been premiered at the Busan International Film Festival, started when its trailer was released.
It was supposed to hit the cinemas in January 24 this year but the government stopped the screening of the movie after Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) objected to its portrayal of a struggling cleric and threatened to launch countrywide protests against its release. The government decided that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) would be consulted to determine if the film was suitable for public exhibition even though it had been cleared twice by the censor boards.
Also read: Govt stops screening of ‘Zindagi Tamasha’
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) invited CII members to preview the film on the government’s instructions.
In February, TLP leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi announced that he would never allow Zindagi Tamasha to be screened even if the government cleared it. He added that the film would be released “over his dead body”.
In March, the Senate panel on human rights decided to deal with the issue and barred the CII from reviewing the film.
The committee, chaired by Senator Khokhar, was given a briefing by officials of the central and provincial censor boards. It directed the CBFC to provide it with a copy of the film so that the panel could determine if there was anything objectionable in the movie.
Speaking to reporters, Khokhar said only parliament had the authority to refer matters to the CII and no ministry could consult the advisory body on its own.
He added that Going by the details provided in the in-camera briefing, there appeared to be nothing objectionable in the film.
Earlier, filmmaker Sarmad had written an open letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, claiming there were attempts to stop his film from releasing despite it being cleared by the central censor board.
Irfan Ali Khoosat, the director of Khoosat Films Private Limited, led a petition in a Lahore court against TLP for attempting to 'interfere in the smooth running, public screening and release' of the upcoming film.
The petitioner specified that there was nothing objectionable in the film that could damage the reputation of any religious party or group.
He explained that by releasing Zindagi Tamasha, Khoosat Films aimed to "bring the soft image of the society among the public at large, to reduce the stress from the minds of peoples of the country and to promote the positivity in the society".
The petition named the Sindh Film Censor Board, Punjab Film Censor Board and the Markazi Film Censor Board as respondents. It has also clarified that the censor boards were "mere (proforma) defendants and the plaintiff has not claimed any relief against them".
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