Just a week after the official teaser for Lafangey dropped online, news broke that Mani and Sami Khan’s film has been banned from being screened in theatres this Eid. Director Abdull Khaaliq Khan told Images that he hadn’t received any official statement or letter to notify him of this.
“No letter was sent, no producer met with the censor board, this decision was taken unanimously to reject the film,” he said.
He called it “strange” and questioned if this “punishment” is on the basis of his province of origin, Balochistan. “If I was from Punjab or Sindh I could’ve been saved but it’s obvious that if a person from Balochistan makes a film, this is what’s going to happen with him. You know how Balochis are not given their rights and often silenced.”
At a loss for words, Khan said that a lot of “money, energy and time” went into making the film and now all of it has gone to “waste”.
According to Khan, it’s the censor board’s job to inform the production team if a certain scene or dialogue needs to be removed and he added that so far, neither the producer nor the director have received a letter or email. “We don’t have any written document, it’s just everyone talking around us about the ban. They didn’t even watch the entire film. I will involve a lawyer and ask how is it even possible to reject a film without involving the director or previewing the film itself.”
For him, what’s important is to confront issues, to have a “Q&A session” and to define why the film is being rejected with support of legal documents. “I’m also reading this information from social media. I don’t know if the chairman has said these things as I read a page quote that he has shut down the film,” he said.
“I’ve been asking what is happening to the people of Balochistan? I’m not the first person, check the channels, they don’t have the right to make films, to do something good, they don’t have the rights and these rights are being snatched away.”
Khan said that it’s better that an official announcement is made that whoever wants to make any film, must send their scripts to censor board first and then wait to get the green signal. At least you’ll be able to save millions then, he said.
Khan said it’s the duty of the censor board to call the director or producer to preview the film, entertain questions and answers and then an official email or letter is handed out in regards to the film being approved or rejected.
The filmmaker of Lafangey called it sheer “stupidity” to announce the news via Facebook instead of informing him and the crew. “They aren’t giving us any letter or reasoning as to why the film was rejected in the first place. We’re getting this information through Facebook that censor board of Pakistan has banned the film. If the film is of 2 hours and 15 mins, one can censor it by giving an adult certificate or minimise it to 1 hour, but either way there has to be an official letter. They don’t have an official Instagram account or even an updated website, I don’t know Muneer Arshad, neither do you.”
The film stars comedian Mani, Khan, Nazish Jahangir, Meraj, Gabol and Behroze Sabzwari. It saw four men enter an old house that they believed to be captured by ghosts. They are seen wandering around the new property from the outside, the “four nobodies” have nothing but dreams, according to the trailer.
Lafangey is one of many films to have been banned by the censor board recently. Sarmad Khoosat’s Zindagi Tamasha and Abu Aleeha’s Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of A Serial Killer were also banned for their content. Zindagi Tamasha was later approved for release. Javed Iqbal premiered at the UK Film Festival two months ago but has still not screened in Pakistan.