Censor board speaks up, says Maalik ban was initiated by film viewers
After a brief on-and-off ban episode on Thursday, Ashir Azeem's political thriller Maalik was slapped with an indefinite ban.
The notice issued by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, declared it “an uncertified film for the whole of Pakistan”, and furnished no reason or rationale for it.
Until a day later.
Yesterday, the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Censors Mubashir Hasan released a multi-point rationale for the ban, which includes the film's portrayal of the police and politicians, ethnic stereotyping, glorification of a former militant, mockery of the democratic voting process, and incitement to violence, among others.
The CBFC maintains that these objections to the film have been raised by the film's viewers themselves.
"After the 3rd day of the release of the local movie “MAALIK”, a plethora of public complaints started pouring in to the CBFC from across the country," writes Chairman Hasan. "Complainants expressed their extreme reaction against the movie through phone calls/letters/personal visits to the CBFC."
Their "extreme public anger and reaction against the movie and the threats to burning to ashes of cinema houses" prompted the CBFC to advise the Ministry of Information to decertify the film, as per Section-9 of Motion Picture Ordinance-1979, which has been used in the past to revoke the certification of films like Sher-e-Punjab and Intehaa.
Here's the full text issued by the CBFC:
1) After the 3rd day of the release of the local movie “MAALIK”, a plethora of public complaints started pouring in to the CBFC from across the country
2) Complainants expressed their extreme reaction against the movie through phone calls/letters/personal visits to the CBFC.
3) According to the complaints, the movie has presented Pakistan an as a lawless state where the state institutions are shown as crippled, inefficient, incapacitated hence openly inciting the common citizen to take law in his/her own hands.
4) As per complaints by the viewers, the movie has dejectedly targeted all the linguistic communities living in Pakistan. The Pashtuns, the Balochs and Sindhis have lodged their protest in particular that their communities have been shown in an unwanted and insulting manner in the movie which hurts their sentiments.
5) Members of the civil society also objected that the movie has shown a ‘ celebrated and heroic death’ of a former Afghan Jihad Mujahid in the end which is against the spirit of the National Action Plan being implemented jointly by the political and the military leadership of the country.
6) A large number of political activists lodged complaints that the movie has presented the role of politicians as a whole as morally and financially corrupt. One of the central characters of the film is shown as a feudal politician who rises to the seat of Chief Minister through unfair means. The politicians are shown to be corrupt, immoral and dishonest with the people. The movie gives people the impression that the entire political system is unjust, corrupt and incapable and all the politicians are busy in minting money under the name of democracy.
7) Political activists also expressed their reaction to the CBFC about the way the movie has demeaned the sanctity of votes during elections. The movie has humiliated the voters by showing the politicians who are elected through their votes as in a villain character.
8) The families of the shaheed police officials from across the country also complained after watching the movie that the police as a whole is shown as a crippled, contemptuous,unjust and corrupt force. The police force is presented in the movie as always working in the interest of the politicians disregarding its duties. The film has given the impression that the entire police force of the country is incapable and corrupt thus draining down the sacrifices made by the police as a front defence line in the war against terrorism.
9) A large number of complaints from KPK province has also been received which state that the movie has hurt the sentiments of Pashtun community by showing the rape of a Pashtun girl by a seemingly Sindhi politician. The complainants have expressed that the rape scene has caused bias, prejudice and hatred among different ethinic communities of the society living together in Sindh.
10) After carefully analyzing all the complaints, the Central Board of Films Censor, as a responsible state institution and functioning under Rules of Business dispatched a “Situation Report” to the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage highlighting the extreme public anger and reaction against the movie and the threats to burning to ashes of cinema houses by the hurtful citizens. Accordingly, the CBFC proposed to the Ministry of I, B & NH to decertify the film as per Section-9 of Motion Picture Ordinance-1979 in order to avoid a major catastrophe and a law and order situation and also to safeguard the life and property of the cinema owners throughout the country. Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinnace 1979 empowers the federal government to with draw or decertify any film under exhibition even after issuance of the censor certificate.
Many locally produced under exhibition films had been decertified by the federal government during the previous regeimes which include Sher e Punjab, Intehaa, etc etc
11) It is pertinent to mention that the non-official members of CBFC who censored the film ‘Maalik’ and passed it without excision for public exhibition have been issued notices to convey the public reaction against the movie.
12) The offer of the Info Minister of KPK to hold the exhibition of the Maalik in any cinema of KPK is not possible as KPK has yet to establish its own Censor Board. Till date, the Central Films Censor Board regulates the cinemas located in the KPK by surprise inspections to ensure that the provisions of the Potion Pictures Ordinance 1979 are followed in letter and spirit. If any cinema exhibits the movie Maalik, appropriate legal action will be taken against including fine, imprisonment and sealing of cinemas.