The film is scheduled for release on January 24
A petition has been filed against the Tehreek-e-Labbaik by Irfan Ali Khoosat, director of Khoosat Films, for trying to interfere with the release of their upcoming film Zindagi Tamasha starrng Arif Hasan, Samiya Mumtaz and Eman Suleman.
Khoosat claimed that the defendant (TLP) was “not entitled to interfere in the smooth running affairs of releasing the film” as they had been had allowed to release the film but the “defendant refused to accede the lawful and genuine request of the plaintiff” and had threatened them. The right-wing TLP was formed in 2016 and has emerged as a major religious force in the country. An anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi recently sentenced 86 people to jail for 55 years each for protests that took place after their party chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi was arrested. Previously, the TLP has protested against Aasia bibi’s release, threatened a Dutch ambassador over tweets by far-right politician Geert Wilders and economist Atif Mian.
The film, Khoosat explained in the petition, was to show a “soft image of society, reduce stress from the minds of people of the country and to promote positivity in society”.
In the petition, he said: “the film was dully presented before the performa defendants and they passed the film for release on screens all over Pakistan after removing some objectionable content”.
He added that the performa defendants (the plaintiff has no claims of relief against them) which includes, the Sindh, Punjab and federal censor boards, had also issued censor certificates to them.
The petition clarified that all characters of the film were only to bring positive thinking and for the viewers entertainment – not targeting individuals.
It added that the TLP workers were illegally and unlawfully harassing, pressurising and blackmailing the cast. The petition was heard on Tuesday by judge Zia ur Rehman who issued notices to respondents and asked them to appear before the court with the arguments on Wednesday.
Cinema & distributors
In a notification issued by the government of Punjab’s information and culture department, Khoosat was directed to have the film “re-examined in the wake of complaints from different quarters”.
“You are, therefore, directed to arrange a show for re-examination of your film in any cinema house on Febuary 3, 2020 at 3pm,” the notification read.
It added that he was not allowed to release the film till the final decision was made by the committee.
On Wednesday, the TLP had decided to hold a protest against the film’s release. However, this was cancelled after the Punjab government’s statement.
Atrium cinema’s Nadeem Mandviwalla said: “The film has gone through the government standardised procedures and has been passed by all relevant censor boards for public exhibition. Thus, the film should be allowed to be exhibited.”
He added that however, they cannot ignore the fact that if it is hurting or going against the belief of any segment of the society then the producers should make every effort to convince that segment so their concerns are addressed.
He told Samaa Digital that they would know the status of the film’s release from the distributors in a day or so.
A meet and greet event scheduled for the cast in Karachi was cancelled due to security threats on Tuesday, said one of the organisers.
Filmmaker Sarmad Khoosat took to social media twice this month to share that he had been receiving threatening phone calls and messages over the release of his upcoming film. Last week, he posted an open letter on Twitter, asking people if he should step back and not release the film.
“I did not make Zindagi Tamasha to hurt, offend or malign anyone. It’s a story about a ‘good enough Muslim,” read the letter. Model and actor Eman Suleman who stars in the film shared the letter on social media and said: “I don’t know what to say except, I’m sorry you might not get to watch this, which is a tragedy, because this film was made for Pakistan.”
Several celebrities, authors and politicians extended their support to the filmmaker. Novelist Mirza Waheed also tweeted about the letter. He said: “Sarmad Khoosat is one of Pakistan’s finest filmmakers. His new film Zindagi Tamasha is ready for release but some people are trying to scuttle it because…they watched a two-minute trailer. Read his letter…”
The second letter and post, where he shared screenshots of threatening messages, came days after the filmmaker wrote an open letter to the prime minister and other officials about obstacles that were created for Zindagi Tamasha’s release.