Don’t take this moment of pride away from our people, says Sarwat Gilani on Joyland’s censor certificate being revoked
A week before its release, film Joyland is now facing a major setback as the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has canceled its exhibition license issued months ago.
A copy of ministry’s notification was shared on Twitter by JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan.
The notice issued on November 11 read that the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) Islamabad granted the censor certificate on August 17 this year. However, after receiving complaints that “the film contains highly objectionable material which do not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society and is clearly repugnant to the norms of ’decency and morality; as laid down in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979,” the federal government has declared Joyland “uncertified”.
Actor Sarwat Gilani, who is one of the main stars of Joyland, tweeted that a “paid smear campaign” has been doing the rounds against the film, recounting that Joyland made history for Pakistani cinema and got cleared by the censor boards. She said the authorities have caved into the pressure from “some malicious people who have not even seen the film.” She called it shameful that a film made by 200 Pakistanis for over six years, that got standing ovations from Toronto to Cairo to Cannes is “being hindered in its own country”.
“Don’t take away this moment of pride and joy from our people!” she wrote. Gilani also said that no one forcing anyone to watch it so similarly no one should be forced to not watch the film. Calling the viewers smart, she said they know what they want to watch or not and the decision should be up to people.
“Don’t insult their intelligence and our hard work,” she concluded.
Singer Abdullah Siddiqui, who also made music for Joyland, took to Instagram stories and wrote, “They’re doing it again! There are smear campaigns to ban Joyland. A dark day for all artists in Pakistan yet again. We need your support to make sure we don’t let these violent, insensitive, extremists win again.”
He also requested people to tweet with the hashtag #releasejoyland.
Several other celebrities also took to Twitter to support the film and call for its release. This included actor Osman Khalid Butt who had some questions.
Butt raised the question that the CBFC members had no issue with the film prior to issuing it a clearance certificate. He said it is disheartening to see that after the nation celebrated Joyland’s many milestones and achievements, the board came under the pressure of “written complaints”, asking who complained, where and how were they able to see the film to even write a complaint.
“It’s baffling to me that even after Joyland made history at Cannes, after all the international critical acclaim it has received, after Pakistan itself submitted the film for Best International Feature at the Oscars, it is somehow (a week before release) unfit for our audience?” the Chupke Chupke actor questioned.
Butt also brought in testimonies by people who’ve actually watched the film at Cannes and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) who claim there’s nothing objectionable about Joyland. “We’ve seen the same happen with *Verna, with Maalik, with Zindagi Tamasha can our cinema please, for once, not be held hostage by what seems to be an entirely arbitrary Ordinance?” he asked.
The 36-year-old actor said if the themes of Joyland are too sensitive or mature for the general audiences, “then give it an appropriate rating. There’s precedent. But Don’t deprive us of watching the film.”
Actor Mira Sethi called out Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb directly in her tweet.
Actor Sanam Saeed said there is no reason not to release Joyland.
Author Fatima Bhutto also posted a Twitter thread on the film’s release and called the censorship “senseless”.
Joyland was supposed to release on November 18 in Pakistan. Images has reached out to filmmaker Saim Sadiq for a comment on the development.
The film has been written and directed by Sadiq and produced by Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat and Lauren Mann. The film’s ensemble cast includes debutantes Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, and Rasti Farooq alongside some of Pakistan’s beloved and respected actors like Gilani, Sania Saeed, Sohail Sameer and Salmaan Peerzada.