Producers, writers, actors and directors talk about censorship
Producers, writers, actors and directors rolled up their sleeves to talk about business at the eighth Karachi Literature Festival on Sunday.
They discussed everything from the role of women in present-day Pakistani cinema, censorship and the future of the industry.
Producer Sangeeta Rizvi, scriptwriter Fasih Bari Khan, director Saqib Malik, actor Faysal Qureshi, Shehryar Munawar Siddiqui, screenwriter Bee Gul and Irfan Ahmed Urfi opened up at a panel session on ‘Pakistani Cinema in 21st Century’.
No individual or group has the right to say that you can’t release your film in your country, said screenwriter Bee Gul while talking about Sarmad Khoosat’s film Zindagi Tamasha.
“Stopping a film from being released on a ‘fake’ notion is more dangerous than anything else,” she added.
Adding to the conversation, Fasih Bari Khan said that producers were scared of having “sensitive content” in their films. He added that films should be made on different topics in the country.
Talking in favour of censorship, Bashar Momin star, Faysal Qureshi, said that we live in an online era which has no concept of censorship and that in a Pakistani context, we need to follow the line.
On the other hand, film director Saqib Malik claimed that there should not be any censorship. “Let the audience watch and decide. What is censored today, might not be censored tomorrow,” he said.
The role of women
According to Gul, representation of women on TV was an on-going battle. However, while talking about the hit drama serial Meray Paas Tum Ho, Gul said that the drama had received equal praise and criticism.
“There are few who write in favour of women, while, many write in opposition. Unfortunately, some women support it too,” she said.
Fasih Khan remarked that if a drama becomes a hit because of the negative portrayal of women, then 10 more plays will be created on the along the same story line.
Qureshi added that the Pakistani population liked ‘masala content’. “If a woman’s character is shown in a negative light, people are more interested in it,” he said.
Saqib Malik said that in the past we always had a ‘song number’ in films but now we have turned it into a negative thing by calling it an ‘item number’. “It was always included in the film and the women in the item numbers were shown as empowered,” said Malik.
Producer Sangeeta agreed with him and said that item numbers were in the films from the beginning, and now the clothes have changed.
Producer and actor Sheheryar Munawar remarked said that commercial films were not embarrassing as it offered what people demanded.
“If you’re going to watch a commercial film, you sign a silent contract that tells you to just enjoy the movie and not take it seriously,” said the actor.
Talking about Bollywood, Qureshi said that it is not right to compare Pakistani films to Bollywood because Bollywood films were released in several thousand cinemas as compared to Pakistani films which are released in a few hundred cinemas. He added that only seven million people out of 220 million watch films in Pakistan.