Almost a month into the postponed release of Sarmad Khoosat-directed Zindagi Tamasha, the film is nowhere to be seen, not in cinema houses and not even on TV or a streaming service thus far.
The film marked Sarmad Khoosat’s return to direction after Manto in which he also played the titular role. But, Zindagi Tamasha features three debutants (Arif Hassan, Eman Suleman, Ali Kureshi) as well as Samiya Mumtaz. Featuring “undroon Lahore” as Sarmad puts it, the film has made a conscious effort to go beyond tropes and at its heart is a story of a family. Even the writer, Nirmal Bano, is a fresh graduate of NCA. Though Zindagi Tamasha got cleared by CBFC, a looming threat is following it, with TLP leader, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, going to extreme lengths, stating that he would rather die than see the film release.
A great deal of confusion has been created as well. Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) was willing to show the film to members of TLP, CII along with certain others and a date was set for viewing (February 3).
Almost two weeks later, TLP has not viewed the film. Speaking to Instep, a senior member from CBFC explained that they had already given the film a certificate to release.
“As far as I can say, there is nothing untoward in the film. We gave it certificate to release. That is when the objections began,” he said, on the condition of anonymity. The senior source at CBFC further noted that objections have been raised by those who have yet to see the film. “We thought that those who are raising objections due to the nature of the teaser/trailer, let us invite them and show them that there isn’t anything objectionable.”
He reiterated that a screening was set for the date of February 3 but for some reason, it never happened. “A print had also been sent to Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and so there is also a lot of confusion. It might be cut in such a way that all potential objections are removed and could end up with a strange edit.”
The senior member of CBFC explained that the objections have come because it is an old man with a beard who is dancing at one point. Without giving away the story of the film, he added that it has been presumed that the film is making fun of clerics. “But having seen the film, I can tell you it does no such thing. It doesn’t mock ‘Naat Khawans’ or clerics at all. But in the eyes of CII, we don’t know.”
As for not receiving an invitation letter, as claimed by the objectionable party, CBFC senior member maintained, “As far as my knowledge serves, that process has passed and Islamabad censor-board has done so.”
As the ultimate body dedicated to deciding on films, what control does CBFC have if they have to placate those who have nothing to do with films in the first place? The senior member unequivocally noted that there are people in Islamabad who should be asked these questions.
“The film has not released. Had objections come after its release, it would make some sense? But the people who raised objections haven’t seen the film. So, it would be better if they sit-down and watch the film first and whatever objections they have can be satiated. Though I’m not a member of CII, I do think their concerns will disperse. Media is free around the world exception being Pakistan. Show them the film. We were showing them the film. I was told CII has seen the film. Let us see what happens,” he concluded. CII has yet to see the film, noted a recent report. It reiterated that CII ‘will’ watch it and give a report on it.