Celebrities call forced censorship of his film tragic
Filmmaker Sarmad Khoosat has been receiving threatening phone calls and messages over his upcoming film Zindagi Tamasha. He posted an open letter on Twitter, asking people if he should just withdraw the film.
But people, including a number of celebrities, extended their support.
Days after writing an open letter to the prime minister and another officials about the obstacles that were created for Zindagi Tamasha, Khoosat’s second letter detailed the abuse he has received.
In Sunday’s letter, Khoosat addressed “Pakistan and Pakistanis”. He is asking the people of Pakistan whether he should withdraw Zindagi Tamasha.
“I did not make Zindagi Tamasha to hurt, offend or malign anyone. It’s a story about a ‘good enough Muslim,” reads the letter.
Khoosat once again clarified that the film doesn’t contain any objectionable content and has been cleared by the censor board.
“There was/is no mention of a sect, party or faction of any sort. Neither in the uncensored nor the censored version,” said Khoosat.
He remarked that if a bearded man is generically called a maulvi, then his film is about a good maulvi.
“An empathetic and heartfelt story of a bearded man who is so much more than just that. He is a human being portrayed through a very human eye,” he said.
Getting dozens of threatening phone calls and msgs. Should I withdraw Zindagi Tamasha? pic.twitter.com/OJB396B1xq— Sarmad Khoosat (@KhoosatSarmad) January 19, 2020
He said that as an artist the last thing he would ever want to achieve through his artistic work is anarchy or hatred. Khoosat said that he doesn’t want anyone to have the pleasure of banning his film as legally, officially, and morally he has the right to release it.
He remarked in his letter that upon completion, the film was cleared by all three censor boards of Pakistan. Khoosat also requested people to stop spreading hatred and anger using the name of Holy Prophet (pbuh). “Don’t spew hate, fear and anger in the name of religion,” he urged.
In another post on social media, Khoosat also shared one of the hundreds of threatening messages he has been receiving. He has also been subjected to doxxing as people are now sharing his CNIC number in the hate messages.
However, Khoosat did not name the people who are threatening him.
A number of celebrities commented on his open letter with messages of support.
Mahira Khan said it shows the power and influence of art.
Time and again we are made to realise our power and our influence. A film ( that people haven’t seen) can make some this scared.— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) January 19, 2020
Mushkil ko bata ke tera Allah kitna bara hai @KhoosatSarmad https://t.co/AGVeTl8Dfh
Eman Suleman, who is also in the movie, said it would be tragic if people can’t watch the film, because it was made for Pakistan.
Mira Sethi said the issue is deeply disturbing and problematic.
The official censor board has cleared this film.— Mira Sethi (@sethimirajee) January 19, 2020
The unofficial censor board – the one that wields street power – is threatening Sarmad Khoosat and his team.
Deeply disturbing and problematic. https://t.co/m6hac9qKOC
Cake actor Sanam Saeed said thought-provoking stories are being banned despite censor boards giving them the go-ahead.
All this effort to ban thought provoking stories despite censor boards giving it the go ahead, despite it being edited time and time again to appease sensitive sensibilities of a certain few, why? https://t.co/WvsJySGDFC— Sanam Saeed (@sanammodysaeed) January 20, 2020
Actor Yasra Rizvi also commented on the movie being like who Pakistan really is.
#ZindagiTamasha a pakistani feature film by @KhoosatSarmad is literally under attack for not being your regular flick that is allowed to undermine so much of ‘who we are’ without any remorse. But this film which looks so much more like us and talks about ‘who we really are’ is .. pic.twitter.com/IkgeQVSReg— Yasra Rizvi (@YasraRizvi) January 17, 2020
Meray Paas Tum Ho actor Humayun Saeed called on the government to address the issue.
The government must address this at the earliest. Filmmaking in Pakistan is already a tough challenge; those who dare to venture into it need to be encouraged and appreciated https://t.co/H2ZP1Wjd8H— Humayun Saeed (@iamhumayunsaeed) January 18, 2020
Senator Farhatullah Babar called the censorship of the film terribly sad.
Terribly sad, threatening calls are made to withdraw ‘Zindagi Tamasha’, despite the film cleared multiple times by censor boards. Shows there are dejure and de-facto govts. De-facto is driving the vehicle from the rear seat. Sooner or later such a vehicle fated to meet accident. https://t.co/qZJxCbwHKb— Farhatullah Babar (@FarhatullahB) January 19, 2020
Directed and co-produced by Khoosat and his sister Kanwal Khoosat, Zindagi Tamasha is a bilingual movie shot in Lahore.
The film also ran into some trouble in October. The trailer was taken down from YouTube and re-uploaded with minor changes.
While addressing a press conference related to the removal of the trailer, the director said that the decision was made after some people raised concerns over certain scenes featured in the trailer. According to the first trailer, the film aims to shed light on the misuse of the blasphemy law.
Zindagi Tamasha created a major buzz when it won big at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. Khoosat’s directorial also won the Kim Ji-Seok Award, named after the festival’s co-founder and executive programmer who died in 2017. The filmmaker shared the award with Indian director Pradip Kurbah, whose film Market was also being screened at the festival.