In a blink-and-you'll miss it move last night, the Sindh government decided to ban the film Maalik and then revoked that notice all in the space of a few hours.
We learned the culture ministry had drafted a notification ordering a ban on the movie for being ‘biased’ and inciting violence. However, before it was formally issued, CM Shah intervened and asked the ministry not to issue it as it would be ‘against the freedom of expression’.
Maalik is not exactly a mainstream movie; it features no big-ticket actors. It has also been dismissed by some as nationalistic propaganda. But that didn't stop the ban-or-not-to-ban debate from creating a stir on social media, where even politicians like Bilawal Bhutto jumped in with their two cents.
Two opposing hashtags began trending shortly after news of the ban broke: #BanMaalik and #IStandWithMaalik.
Maalik stars director Ashir Azeem as Major Asad, a former SSG Commando who now runs a private security company. A school teacher (Ehteshamuddin) sees the rise of his corrupt feudal lord (Hassan Niazi) to Chief Minister. When Major Asad's company is hired to protect the CM, the story takes an interesting turn.
Some people accused the film of being establishment propaganda and therefore deserving of a ban. The film's actor-director Ashir Azeem begged to differ.
Bilawal Bhutto claimed the movie encouraged 'ethnic racism' — to which the director also responded.
Mostly, people took issue with a scene in the film where Asher Azeem's character kills the standing Chief Minister, calling it an example of supporting vigilantism that deserves condemnation, especially in light of Salman Taseer's murder.
Some people said the film was bad, period
Others thought a ban was overkill, even if you disagreed with the content