Decision to halt Javed Iqbal release disappoints Pakistanis



A day before its release, Yasir Hussain and Ayesha Omar’s recent offering, Javed Iqbal, has been stopped from screening by the Punjab government and the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC). The Abu Aleeha directorial, which was slated to release in cinemas on Friday, has been stopped to be screened in cinemas nationwide.

Censor Board insiders have confirmed to The Express Tribune that they had previously not banned the film but had suggested a few cuts and beeps. However, when they went to the premiere, they saw the film being screened unedited and uncut. The Board insiders are willing to call a full board to reconsider the film but they haven’t received any request from the makers in writing.

The Express Tribune reached out to Sindh Censor Board to verify and is currently awaiting a comment. 

However, Aleeha on Thursday took to Twitter and addressed the censor board’s decision to stop the release of his film with a jibe. “Javed Iqbal will not be screened in cinemas,” the director retorted, adding, “Instead, please screen any drama’s first or last episode.”

The outrage

Since the news of the film’s release being halted made rounds on social media, fans and insiders expressed disappointment over the censor board’s decision. 

Actor Osman Khalid Butt shared, “Release the Javed Iqbal film! Halting it ‘in the wake of persistent complaints received from different quarters’ 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 it was cleared for release by all censor boards is incredibly vague and a terrible look for the future of Pakistani cinema.”

“Punjab govt has stopped the release of the film Javed Iqbal citing public complaints,” a user tweeted. “Abu Aleeha made a mistake, he should’ve hired a Turkish actor to play Iqbal. The ruling party makes tall claims about helping the industry but the reality is totally different. This is just an example.”

Another one penned, “Today, Punjab Government has banned a film that takes into account some facts hinting towards the involvement of Police and Government officials. The film was to be released on 28 January 2021. This case every time just blows my mind! Hope the film is released.”

One more opined how the film depicts the ugly face of our society. “Releasing of Javed Iqbal film is banned! This is not going to happen. It’s the truth of our society which we are not facing. Just why? Why?” the tweep questioned.

While another added, “Tragic, Govt of Punjab! Already cinema and film industries seem dead and you are not helping in any way. What’s with the insecurity despite censors clearing it.” 

One more added, “The film was apparently cleared by all censor boards, then banned by Punjab Government after Karachi Premier because it seems someone powerful got offended.” Another user shared how good films “always offend someone powerful.” The user wrote, “Good films will always offend someone powerful. The state needs to come up with ways to prevent the industry from powerful egos.”

Another penned, “Disappointed to know this. Please let people experiment with new content in this country. Otherwise all we would be left of will b the cheap saas-bahu serials.”

‘Public criticism’

Earlier, speaking to The Express Tribune, the officials at CBFC and Punjab Film Censor Board commented on the decision to stop the release of Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer. 

“Punjab Information and Culture Department stopped the release of Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer due to the objection over the film from the public,” a senior official of Punjab Film Censor Board confirmed to The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity. “All boards will re-examine the film and further decisions about the film whether it should be released or not.”

The official further added, “We haven’t yet announced the date of re-examining but whenever we will decide, we shall brief the public. This isn’t the first time a release of the film was stopped.”

A CBFC spokesperson also shed light on the matter and commented, “CBFC has halted the release of a film on Javed Iqbal. We are yet to consider its re-examination. CBFC Chairman Arshad Munir has a clear stance in this regard as it will be stopped for release but other provinces can re-examine it according to their policy.”

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