A month has passed. Sarmad Khoosat, the director of the film, maintains he has said all that he felt he needed to say in a letter addressing those in the echelon of state power.
He maintained that his film was passed by the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) with some cuts that he was willing to concede with.
But Khadim Hussain Rizvi, chief of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), threatened to mobilize a rally. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), with no jurisdiction in the matter, was engaged by the government to pacify things instead of standing by the filmmaker. TLP leader postured that the film would release over his dead body.
A meeting was supposed to take place featuring various members of CII, potentially TLP as well as members of Central Board of Film Censors on February 03. The meeting never happened. A member of CBFC, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to Instep.
As the filmmaker lives under threats with his film in limbo, a new issue has emerged.
According to a letter by Sindh Board of Film Censors (SBFC) addressing the Secretary of Culture, Tourism, Antiquities and Archives Department, Government of Sindh, Karachi, a member of the SBFC is supposedly responsible for some of the mess chasing Zindagi Tamasha.
In its letter, dated February 21, it is stated that a Mr. Mushtaq Ahmed Jatoi, who “looks after” the work of Secretary, “Sindh Film Censor Board is deliberately and consistently indulging in acts that are in defiance of laid down rules, regulations and procedures of SBFC”.
It goes on to note that Zindagi Tamasha was censored and passed with “certain extrusions” and on January 21, Mr. Mushtaq Ahmed Jatoi - without approval - approached cinema owners and distributors for restrictions on the film, which led to the filmmaker filing litigation in “Lahore High Court”.
When asked to explain these discrepancies, “he shifted blame” to others.
Noted the letter: “As you are aware, this matter has also attracted attention of the Senate Function which issued a call-up Notice to the undersigned to appear on Feb 21 in the Parliament House in Islamabad,” adding that the meeting has been put on hold, indefinitely.
It states that it was decided on a meeting held on Feb 20 that no “provisional certificates” would be issued by Secretary, unless “signed by Chairman” in accordance with the rules of the Sindh Film Censor Rules.
However, noted the statement, in disregard of the SBFC rules, Mr. Mushtaq Ahmed Jatoi issued certificates to Call of the Wild and Brahms: The Boy 2. For this violation, he should be removed from his position “and proceeded against per E&D rules for gross misconduct”.
According to this letter, signed by Chairman SBFC (Khalid Bin Shaheen) and Vice-Chairman (Muhammad Sachal Shaikh), all members of SBFC have been taken onboard. Also addressed to various Sindh ministries, it states that Mushtaq Ahmed has “consciously decided to ignore and deny the existence of SBFC, etc.”
Well, the plot thickens. Many questions have emerged because of this statement. Does the Sindh Board of Film Censors also have an issue with Hollywood films; Call of the Wild and Brahms: The Boy 2? Most importantly, where does this leave Zindagi Tamasha? Does it mean SBFC will make sure cinema houses/exhibitors/distributors will run the film and TLP leader, therefore, should be exonerated in the case of Zindagi Tamasha vs. TLP threats?
As critics and fans we continue to wait for the film’s release, beginning with the province of Sindh.