We got to know about Joyland getting decertified via Twitter, says Saim Sadiq on CBFC’s notice to halt film’s release

We got to know about Joyland getting decertified via Twitter, says Saim Sadiq on CBFC’s notice to halt film’s release

He said that as a writer and director, "there’s nothing [in the film] that goes against our social values."
15 Nov, 2022

The federal government recently declared Saim Sadiq’s film Joyland “uncertified” over written complaints it received about “objectionable material” in the film. But filmmaker Sadiq denies that the film contains anything objectionable.

On Monday, Sadiq appeared on GEO TV’s Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath where he was asked about Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC’s) claim that Joyland features ‘objectionable’ material that goes against “social values and moral standards of our society”.

Saim told the news anchor, “According to me, because I have written and directed the film, there’s nothing as such that goes against our social values. It’s a story about a family, I see my family in one way and if you see it or anyone watches it they will as well. Yes, there’s one thing in the film. Where there are other characters, of one family, there’s one more character that is of a trans person played by a trans actor.”

Sadiq said that perhaps this may be an issue for the people who have reservations about Joyland because “we don’t want to see a certain group of people in a human light like normal human beings. Because as long as jokes are made about them, it doesn’t go against our social values, but if we show them like normal human beings, then suddenly it goes against our social values and moral standards.”

When asked if the film depicts Pakistani society as a whole, the filmmaker explained, “Often our people use the term ‘promotion’, but it’s not the film’s job to promote something. That’s especially true of a good film. It shouldn’t promote anything or have an agenda. If a film shows someone drinking alcohol, that doesn’t mean the film promotes drinking, just like how we saw in The Legend of Maula Jatt which is doing great on the box office. However, the film notes that in the era they are depicting, it was common to drink.”

He added that it isn’t ‘promotion’ if Joyland has a trans character and it depicts that a married man forms a friendship with a trans person, it’s a depiction of our own society “because around us there are stories like these that exist.”

When asked about the the supposed objectionable content the CBFC claims Joyland contains, Sadiq said that there’s a difference between the people who have watched the film and have nothing to complain about versus the people who have not yet watched it and are objecting to it based on their assumptions. He shared that two members of Jamaat-e-Islami, whom he knows through his father, watched Joyland and had no objections.

He shared with Khanzada that the CBFC had no issues prior to the complaints and the Sindh censor board had asked them to bleep two words from the film. Similarly, Islamabad and Punjab asked him to fix a few things and it was ready to screen on November 18. But as far as the notice is concerned, Sadiq said they got to know about Joyland being decertified through social media.

“We got to know about the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s decision via social media, that Joyland has been decertified. We were not informed directly. If you see the issue date on the notice, it is dated November 11, that was Friday and we got to know about it through Twitter on Saturday.”

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 such as Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Sohail Sameer and Salmaan Peerzada.

What happened

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan of the JI shared on Saturday a copy of the notice dated November 11 that read that the CBFC 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 declared Joyland “uncertified”.

But ever since the notice went online, celebrities including Joyland stars Saeed and Gilani, Abdullah Siddiqui who made music for the film, Sajal Aly, Osman Khalid Butt, Mira Sethi, Sanam Saeed, Zhalay Sarhadi and others called for an end to the ban and for the film to be released.