As a cinema lover who enjoys watching films on the silver screen, just like they were meant to be seen, I am enraged. Enraged because of the fact that the censor boards of Pakistan are operating on some completely different tangent, where logic and reasoning seem to be an alien concept. The censor boards are on a banning spree whereby any film that generates some buzz and interest in Pakistan, gets the axe.
Firstly, you should know that for a teeny tiny country like ours, we have three different autonomous censor boards whereas our neighbor India with 29 states has one central censor board. We have one board for Punjab, one for Sindh and then there is mama bear Central Board of Film Censors based in Islamabad which technically is supposed to only look after the capital territory, but its kind of bad ass, and tends to influence all the boards because why not , for initially, before the 18th amendment they were all one entity and mama bear is still not over this divide.
I won’t go into the rather colorful history of our censor boards (You can read about it here). But let’s talk about what they have been doing recently, very recently. In December, Tiger Zinda Hay was banned because you know the drill, a reference to Pakistan calls for a ban, even though if it’s about promoting peace and doesn’t have an iota of negativity. Khair this was expected so no shock there.
In 2018 we baned Padman, Aiyaary and now Pari. Padman was banned because women in Pakistan don’t menstruate so makes no sense to release it here right? No seriously, it was a film ‘whose name, subject and story are not acceptable yet in our society’. See! Aiyaary was banned because God knows why. However, the most interesting case is that of the Anushka Sharma starrer Pari.
The film was cleared by Punjab and Sindh Cesnor Boards albeit a few cuts were demanded which was expected. However mama bear Central Board saw the film and was like nopes, this ain’t releasing in Pakistan because this totally goes against our culture and religion, and you Punjab and Sindh Censor Board know nothing! Yes, you are autonomous bodies and can make your own decisions but no you really cant, so yeah the film is banned!
This decision is confusing on so many levels. First, you mama bear override the Punjab and Sindh Boards and make them look like fools in the public’s eye. Then the reasoning you give is that: “This film stimulates the viewers in favor of black magic and promotes thoughts that are contradictory to our religion”. It is a film, a piece of fiction, which is meant to entertain. You just cannot ban ideas you don’t agree with because you have the power to so.
The cinemas of Pakistan are already going through a tough time given Pakistani content that has been coming out is mediocre at best, while almost all major Indian films in the last few weeks got banned. The audiences are simply not going to cinemas and you censor boards have a huge role to play in this. We really hope you make amends to your ways or else our film industry will soon go back to where we were a few years back: NOWHERE!