Film Javed Iqbal to premiere at UK film festival, Yasir Hussain disappointed about stoppage back home
Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story Of A Serial Killer, a film that was stopped from screening in Pakistan two days before its release in theatres despite censor board approval, will premiere as the opening movie for the 2022 UK Asian Film Festival on May 4 at London’s leading cinema, BFI Southbank, Deadline reported. Lead actor Yasir Hussain who plays Javed Iqbal is delighted with the news but also disappointed with the lack of recognition at home.
"It is a matter of pride that the UK Asian Film Festival is treating our film with so much respect but it is unfortunate that we are unable to recognise the value of our own content and our own people," Hussain captioned a screenshot of the news announcing the premiere.
Comparing the film to what is shown in cinemas he said, "This Pakistani story was banned in Pakistan but you must watch the five movies that are based on our culture on Eid."
Hussain thanked writer-director Abu Aleeha and producer Javed Ahmed Kakepoto for "making this different movie". He also thanked Deadline, the publication that appears to have first reported the story about the film premiering at the UK Asian Film Festival, and took a dig at Pakistani bloggers, saying if they had "caught a break from diving into the depths of divorces, they would've posted this news too".
Based on Aleeha’s own novel Kukri, the film revolves around the investigation into Iqbal, the serial killer who killed 100 young boys in Lahore and sent evidence of his crimes to the authorities and the media in 1999. He was arrested and sentenced to death. But just two years into his sentence, he allegedly committed suicide in his prison cell.
Originally scheduled for release in October, the film's countrywide premiere faced several months of postponement before it had its release in Punjab halted by the Punjab government despite having clearance from all censor boards. This prompted backlash from the film community and the involved actors who voiced their disappointment, calling for the film to be released in Punjab. Hussain, Ayesha Omar and Osman Khalid Butt were among those who spoke up at the time.
“The importance of this film cannot be underestimated. It brings to light an issue — the abuse and mass murder of young boys — that is of the utmost importance and yet rarely discussed,” Deadline quoted UK Asian Film Festival founder and director Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry as saying.
“It has always been far too convenient for South Asian societies to brush such issues under the carpet but only by creating safe spaces in which to confront these issues and their root causes can we begin to create the meaningful social change we need. In that way we all owe a debt of gratitude to the creators of this film,” Chowdhry commented.
Aleeha, Kakepoto and lead actors, Hussain and Omar will all be present at the UK screening on the opening night of the film festival to introduce the movie.