03 Aug, 2023

After years of delays, filmmaker Sarmad Khoosat has had enough. If his film Zindagi Tamasha won’t be released in cinemas, he’ll release it himself — on YouTube.

He posted a video on Instagram on Thursday in which he announced that he will be uploading the full version of Zindagi Tamasha to YouTube on Friday, August 4.

Wishing everyone a happy Independence Day in advance, he said he too wanted to free something — his feature film Zindagi Tamasha.

He acknowledged the controversies surrounding the movie and said while there is a sense of loss, it is not just his. “There is a bit of a sense of failure, but it is not just mine. It is the system’s, it is that our voices are just not powerful enough,” he said.

The filmmaker said that as a responsible citizen, he followed all the administrative processes and legalities involved, paid the dues and tried very hard but the road was paved with unfairness and injustices for Zindagi Tamasha.

He said that his was an independent film with no sponsors, corporate or otherwise, and his biggest wish as a director was for it to be screened in cinemas. He also displayed on screen all three censor board certificates awarded to the film.

“There will be no collective cinematic experience of watching the story which was meant to be yours, meant to be felt by you, meant to be received by you. It will now be received through YouTube,” said Khoosat. The film will be uploaded to the official Khoosat Films YouTube account sans ads.

“It is for your experience, it is entirely free so that amid all the allegations and injustices against it, you can watch Zindagi Tamasha for yourself.”

Acknowledging that film is an expensive medium and the years of financial loss he has incurred as a result of the controversies that led to the film being banned, he said a directors cut will be uploaded on Vimeo as a video on demand feature.

The version uploaded on YouTube will be the one approved by the censor boards.

He made one request, however, which is for people to watch the film on YouTube or Vimeo, not via torrents.

“In the YouTube description box, there will be a link in case you want to support artistic independence and a small production house. Please contribute if you want to,” he said.

“So, Zindagi Tamasha is now all yours, and the only request I will make is, when you see the film, do so with an open mind, ignore the controversy about it and judge it on its own merits and demerits,” asked Khoosat.

“Happy Independence Day to all of you, it’s yours. Zindagi Tamasha is free and it’s yours now.”

Pakistan’s official entry to the Oscars in 2021, Zindagi Tamasha has been directed and co-produced by Sarmad Khoosat and Kanwal Khoosat and written by Nirmal Bano. It’s cast includes Arif Hassan, Eman Suleman, Samiya Mumtaz and Ali Kureshi.

It was barred from being shown in Pakistani cinemas over a political controversy.

The film had its premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in 2019 and was the first Pakistani film to win the prestigious Kim Ji-Seok Award at the festival. It also bagged the Snow Leopard Award for Best Film at the 6th Asian World Film Festival (AWFF) in 2021.

Zindagi Tamasha faced controversy after Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) called for protests against its original release on January 24, 2020, alleging it was “blasphemous”. Sarmad had filed a petition against the TLP in a Lahore court for “trying to interfere into the smooth running, public screening/releasing” of Zindagi Tamasha in January 2020.