‘Joyland’s success is Pakistan’s success’: Celebrities rally behind filmmaker Saim Sadiq for Joyland’s release

‘Joyland’s success is Pakistan’s success’: Celebrities rally behind filmmaker Saim Sadiq for Joyland’s release

The director called the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting revoking Joyland's censor certificate after receiving complaints from people who hadn't even seen the film a "sudden U-turn".
14 Nov, 2022

Internationally recognised film Joyland is facing a major roadblock in its journey to release in its home country as the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has revoked the censor certificate granted to the filmmaker months ago. Ever since a copy of the notification made it to social media, celebrities have been up in arms, calling for an end to the ban and for the film to be released.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan of the JI shared on Saturday a copy of the notice dated November 11 that 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”.

A few hours after Joyland’s actor Sarwat Gilani and musician Abdullah Siddiqui were joined by other celebrities to decry the decision, director Saim Sadiq shared his statement on Instagram, “We — as a team — are gutted by this development but fully intend to raise our voice against this grave injustice. I am compelled to point out that this sudden U-turn by the Pakistan Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is absolutely unconstitutional and illegal.”

He also shared that Joyland got certified by all three censor boards earlier in August. “The 18th amendment in the Pakistani Constitution gives all provinces the autonomy to make their own decision, yet the Ministry suddenly caved under pressure from a few extremist factions — who have not seen the film — and made a mockery of our federal censor board by rendering their decision irrelevant,” Sadiq wrote.

He added that in addition to their censor certificate being revoked, the ministry has also gone “against the Constitution by ordering all the other provincial censor boards, Sindh and Punjab, to follow its decision,” and that Joyland is still certified to release in Punjab and Sindh on its original release date, November 18.

“I am thankful for all the messages on mainstream and social media in support of the film and against this decision to hinder the film’s release in its home country, which show that Pakistani audiences are sensible and don’t want to be dictated about which film they should or should not watch,” Sadiq wrote with the hashtag #ReleaseJoyland and urged the ministry to review its decision. He also attached copies of all three certificates that were granted for the film’s release.

Actor Sania Saeed, who also stars in Joyland, told Taimur Rahman, a political activist and musician, “If it [Joyland] doesn’t release in Pakistan, there are going to be some difficulties for the Oscars submission. But what’s even more upsetting is that the entire world appreciated a Pakistani film, our film, story and people and Pakistan won’t be able to see the film, that’s sad.”

She reasoned that the film is for adults, therefore, they must be trusted with what kind of content they want and don’t want to watch. “I believe we should leave this decision up to the people. For the film to go up in cinemas, we need your support. The more people tweet in favour, the possibility for its release increases even more. I request all friends, who believe in freedom of what they should and should not watch, to raise voice for the release of Joyland via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook,” she said.

Actor Zhalay Sarhadi re-shared Sadiq’s post and wrote, “Why!!! we need to have this played in our cinemas!” with the hashtag Sadiq encouraged everyone to use for Joyland.

Jemima Goldsmith took to her Instagram stories and re-shared Sadiq’s post as well.

Sadqay Tumhare actor Adnan Malik took to Twitter and wrote that a film that features “a love story about a trans person” in a country that recognises and gives rights to trans people, makes no sense. “There’s so much fear, confusion and hypocrisy in a decision like this,” he wrote.

Malik called the state’s “parenting machine” a complete failure and said that’s the reason why our country is “in such a dismal place”.

“Power-hungry, money-driven, shadowed masculine warriors of morality, who probably have suppressed desires and broken relationships at home, inflicting their fears onto us. Always morality policing rather than focusing on the real issue at hand”, he said.

He questioned what people are afraid of when cinema is meant to create dialogue and conversation. Backing Gilani’s point that no one is forcing anyone to watch it, Malik wrote that Joyland is probably the most critically acclaimed Pakistani film of all time and it deserves a celebration. “Let’s own our culture rather than living in fear, in our own bodies and selves. Please share and support independent voices for the sake of our future,” said the Cake actor.

TV and radio host Anoushey Ashraf also took to Instagram and wrote, “With Netflix in every household and porn watched most by Pakistanis, the decision to curb your own artists growth, popularity and hard work is downright dumb and shameful. Films tell stories beyond our imagination, they transport us into worlds unknown. And here we are banning movies while we morally digress every bloody day.” She called it shameful and extended support to Gilani.

Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir tweeted that not acknowledging diverse stories reflects our “fear to acknowledge our own reality that we are a diverse society” where different beliefs, cultures, experiences and struggles exist.

Actor Nadia Jamil tweeted that we have a habit of not appreciating “our national treasures” and said it is time to stand up for Joyland.

“Time to own what’s ours and protect it from extremist attitudes. I grew up in Zia’s era of Martial Law, with censorship and clamps on creativity. The progressive writers movement, classical dance, music and creativity was all banned. Our culture was suffocated, muted, disrespected. Our right to be creative stolen from us. This time we must protect that right,” she wrote.

The Damsa actor shared steps on how people can help the film release —use hashtag #ReleaseJoyland on Twitter every time you tweet about the film, tag the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and call the ministry and demand that they stand up and to “pressure from people looking to malign the film.”

“Please be part of the solution. Please allow our people the right to enjoy our own art! Please know, silence gives strength to the problem. We are protecting our freedom. Our freedom to make art, and watch art. Our freedom to think for ourselves whether we like a film or not!” requested Jamil.

Actors Sajal Aly and Hira Mani also rallied behind Sadiq and extended their support to release Joyland.

Actor Ali Rehman Khan tweeted that Joyland’s success is Pakistan’s success and the amount of “acclaim it has garnered from reputable festivals around the world, while receiving standing ovations everywhere it has screened, is a matter of pride for us.”

Joyland 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, Saeed, Sohail Sameer and Salmaan Peerzada.


Truth be told Nov 14, 2022 05:37pm
Idiots. Birds of a feather. Clearly there are objectionable dialogues, concepts and themes. Our entire population is not intellectually sound to cope with this. The issue raised is genuine and can happen but how often does it happen. Why do you want to confuse people? It's like for a single non-binary entity in a school in Ontario, all the time they keep on beating the agenda of inclusion and in fact are not fixing things but are confusing the next generation, as well as grooming them in a negative manner. For one person in a million's population who is different, you don't keep on lecturing everyone day and night. The movie will have a similar effect. Celebrities are backing it since it is their bread and butter. They are not looking at the results and long term effects. They work under the umbrella of art and rights and ruin a society. Will they introduce 'swinging' which two decades ago a drama portrayed that army personnel do so? Think about it.
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Seedoo Nov 14, 2022 07:17pm
This is how obscurantists destroy creativity and entrepreneurship in a country, eventually destroying industries and the entire economy. All in the name of religion and religious values.
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Ahmed Nov 14, 2022 07:23pm
How is it success? How do you define it? Cannes or any other award show is not success. Secondly, the majority of Pakistan wouldve never supported the making of this movie.
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Ehsan Nov 14, 2022 07:30pm
Insecure country which doesn’t trust the intelligence of its own people
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Chawnti Nov 14, 2022 07:36pm
The topic of transgender rights is not taboo in the world anymore, but our cultural norms are different due socio-religious sensitivities it’s a don’t ask don’t tell scenario, Joyland told everybody.
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Ten Jee Nov 14, 2022 08:01pm
Where is the balance in this article? There is zero acknowledgement of the majority of Pakistanis who do not want such films and art to represent them, who in fact often complain that there isn't enough censorship of the showbiz and media industry. Such art represents a tiny minority of tastes. Also I am shocked to hear words like 'parent state' and 'let adults choose' ... if content that is repugnant to general public tastes and sensitivities is allowed, there is a trickle down effect to (deliberately) lower the decency thresholds in all art across the age groups. Pakistanis are right to demand their institutions defend and uphold their public values. The whinging of these celebs underlines exactly why they are so different to the rest of us .. they are just as guilty of failing to see our point of view. Long live Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan .
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Ten Jee Nov 14, 2022 08:05pm
@Ehsan or a country that is making a stand for what it strands for, and refusing to have imported values and deracinated celebrities promoting alien agendas foisted upon it.
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Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Nov 14, 2022 08:51pm
United we stand, divided we fall.
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Khurram Waheed Nov 14, 2022 09:02pm
Should not be allowed. Trailer of this film shows a sympathetic look at the illicit relationship between a Khwaja Sira and a full grown man. Yes it can happen, but that doesnot mean it should be condone. This is not our culture and this is not our religion. cultural sophistication does not mean we accept any and all western thought blindly. Gender Identity is a foreign concept in our religion and any effort to sabotage or undermine these core values should be criticized and blocked .
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NYS Nov 14, 2022 10:15pm
@Truth be told subject to scrutinize that resonated the right manner
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kumaran Nov 14, 2022 10:27pm
@Ten Jee If alien agendas were always opposed Pakistan would not be an Islamic country! Turkish and Saudi agendas are not considered Alien?
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AH Nov 14, 2022 10:31pm
Vast majority are not interested in this film. Good thing it's banned
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Faiza Ahmad Nov 14, 2022 10:35pm
Ye Islami jhamuria Pakistan hai ,is Mai aisi koi b cheez qabul nhi ho gi Jo Islam k khilaaf hogi aur konsi social issues k baray Mai baat ho rehi hai is movie Mai ye sirf LGBTQ ko promote karnay k lie banayi Gyi hai ...aur Jo award milay hen is film ko wo bhi in queer ki taraf say milay Han hamary logo ko brain wash karnay k lie banaya gya hai ......hum apni Puri koshish karengay is ko roknay k lie
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Jehan Gir Nov 15, 2022 12:30am
This kind of shameless film by the shameless people can not be allowed in our country.
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Jehan Gir Nov 15, 2022 12:31am
@Seedoo we don't need such kind of economy. You already have built a strong economy with the film industry. That is enough.
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TZaman Nov 15, 2022 12:45am
Hello false protector of Pakistani culture, check the Google search statistics from Pakistan. You should rather start the march for banning Google Search. Joyland is nothing compared to it.
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Irfan Huq Nov 15, 2022 01:56am
@Truth be told Have you ever seen this movie before making remarks?
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Irfan Huq Nov 15, 2022 01:56am
@Ahmed Why do you say that do you have a reason or just you want to make an announcement just like the sensor board
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Naimatullah Babar Nov 15, 2022 02:27am
Why are people so offended when a movie is showing a khawajasirah character in a positive light? No one has seen the film but everyone is quick to pass judgment based on false information they hear left and right. The provincial censor boards and the central censor board saw the movie and approved it and now the people should get a chance to decide what they want to watch. Maria B, Feroz Khan, or the JI senator have not seen the film and are spreading false infirmation trying to manipulate the awaam.
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Nazir Ali Nov 15, 2022 02:54am
For those oppositong the film, do you guys represent the entire country? Are you the patron of religion? Don't teach others morals when you are not the moral police. Just grow up.
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Imran Nov 15, 2022 04:05am
If you don't like it, don't watch it. Don't bring in your biases and religious scope to every issue.
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Leah Nov 15, 2022 05:22am
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Glen D'Abreo Nov 15, 2022 06:52am
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: The moral police are out in force ? Whose social values and moral standards of which society are we addressing. What is clearly repugnant to the norms of society as these pillars OF morality think they speak for all? Its the narrow minded in our society that are making the rules what consenting adults can and cannot watch ?
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Jigen.m19 Nov 15, 2022 07:20am
Keep this dirty agenda in the west.
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Glen D'Abreo Nov 15, 2022 07:23am
@Truth be told Think who died and made you monitor of this film?. the film has not been released. Your a specialist to know our population can't cope with this? Do you have data to prove the frequency of its occurrence ? discussion does NOT confuse people? It makes then. Non-binary entity in schools exist.. NO ONE is beating any agenda! Accepting non binary is helping future generations, to learn & not judge manner. This "for one person in a million's population who is different" is something you pulled out of the air ? No ONE is lecturing . Film will educate you like to be compassion. Celebrities are backing it because its the right thing to do. If you are uncomfortable with the subject matter we respect it don't go see the movie. If you decide you want to walk the path of narrow mindedness, that my brother is your choice. No one can fix that!Stop being the Morality Police, Censorship is not good for the soul of our nation!Think about it.
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Ahmed Nov 15, 2022 08:34am
@Glen D Our Islamic morals and values. The values of the majority of this country etched in the constitution.
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Sufia Nov 15, 2022 08:44am
The decision by the ministry of information is a constitutional one. By a single statement of Saim Sadiq it cannot be called unconstitutional. I'm shocked at @khanjemima supporting. Have you talked to @Imrankhan about the agenda it's supporting. We are not ignorant apes any more that we can let all foreign paid agendas get fulfilled without our consent at large. Those clearly mentioning the movie doesn't comply with their heteronormative society ensures the movie is promoting LGBTQ agenda of the UN being imposed on Pakistan in their letters and reports written to the ministry in 2018_2021 for decriminalisation of same sex marriages. We will stand for Islam and Qur'an and say no to the UN imposition of decriminalisation of homosexuality. #banjoyland #boycottjoyland #standforislam #bangenerations #boycottgenerations
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Zara Nov 15, 2022 09:08am
Great that it's banned,nd it should be,even in uae such movies cannot be screened in cinemas.These so called celebrities are an embarrassment to the country,during floods so many people visited pakistan .Our own celebrities, instead of using their fame for good,they ignored the catastrophe. Except for hadika kyani nd Mr nd Mrs mani,no one did fund raising,except for hadiqa no one went their.These celebrities should be banned from social media,I wonder what their agendas are?
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It's me Nov 15, 2022 09:44am
Sadly, the success of such artists is the loss of Pakistan.
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It's me Nov 15, 2022 09:47am
@Glen D there are trailers of this film and moreover sensor board watches the film and when it does comply with our culture, it is simply being REJECTED.
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It's me Nov 15, 2022 09:48am
@Imran Modi G,will be proud of your efforts.
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Baig Nov 15, 2022 10:26am
@Glen D Censorship is not good for the soul?Say that when someone makes a film on how great the holocaust was and tries to release it in Europe.When making content one has to have a standard of morality in mind.Now where that standard comes from?The censor board ofcourse.And how do they define it?By seeing what the majority of population in the country find immoral.The majority of Pakistan is absolutely disgusted by the narrative this film is pushing.Its funny how liberals talk about democracy only when it suits them.
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Readdr Nov 15, 2022 01:48pm
How is it democracy when majority is against the film and it you say it should be screened
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