‘Zindagi Tamasha’, scheduled to release in Pakistan on January 24th has already become the first Pakistani movie to win an award at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival 2019.
Proud moment for Pakistan, isn’t it? Apparently, not!
Art is smothered worldwide due to unnecessary political agendas. ‘Zindagi Tamasha’, is another example of a masterpiece ruined by the hands of the few troublemakers.
The emotionally gripping movie revolves around the life of a Muslim cleric and how a dance video turns his life around. He composes and sings naat (religious poems) and is respected in the society before everything falls apart.
The naat singer becomes the talk of the town and his own daughter turns her back on him after the video goes viral.
Is it a crime to indulge in something you are passionate about? There’s a beautiful message in the trailer, ‘I don’t get that if someone is a good Muslim and prays five times a day, why is he expected to live an austere life?’
It calls out every single person for policing others’ activities. Anyone who thinks that s/he has the authority to decide how someone should live their life is condemned.
Overview Of The Religious Backlash
When the trailer was released in October it faced severe backlash on religious grounds. An Islamic political party voiced their worries over the portrayal of a struggling cleric. According to Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), the film is accused of containing blasphemy.
● What is Blasphemy?
Blasphemy is an act of insulting or making remarks against Prophet Muhammad. It is not just frowned upon by Pakistanis but is also considered to be a crime. Insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammad leads to a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan.
It is a sensitive issue among the Pakistani Muslims, so much so that a Pakistani scholar is facing a death sentence for making blasphemous Facebook posts.
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However, the movie did not face any obstacles with the country’s main censor board. Even after receiving the green signal from three Pakistani censor boards, the movie is on the verge of never being released due to the protests from TLP.
Why? Apparently, it portrays the society in a bad light.
“The characterization of the naat-reader in the film is such that it can cause discomfort to the public and might lead them to deviate from Islam and Prophet (Muhammad),” the political party voiced their concerns.
In an interview, the producer Kanwal Khoosat hoped that after watching the movie, people will walk away with tolerance. Ironically, much before the release, people are projecting intolerance and hate towards the film.
People have stooped so low that the cast and crew of the film have been terrorized ever since the release of the trailer. They are receiving death threats and are immersed under a pile of complaints. TLP is protesting against the film by leading mass rallies across the country which was later called off.
Pakistani filmmaker Samrad Khoosat has written two open letters, owing to the mass criticism towards the movie. The first one was directed to the Prime Minister, Imran Khan in which he describes the atrocious cruelties he is facing along with his team and family members.
In another letter, he clarifies himself by saying that he had no intention of hurting any person’s religious sentiments. He goes forward to say that he has decided against releasing the movie as he can’t stand the fact that people will anyway ban it.
This is not the first time that a movie has been banned due to religious outburst. In 2006, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ had also been banned for showing blasphemous content and outbreak by the Christian minority in the country.
Again, in 2016, ‘Sarabjit’ was banned on the same grounds along with excessive controversial depictions. The act of banning movies dates back to 1980.
‘The Blood of Hussain’ was banned by General Zia ul-Haq, after he seized power in a coup de état, claiming that the film portrays a fictional military coup in an unfavorable light.
Such political flare-ups discourage artists. An artist must have a safe space to express his views through art. Nobody should have to face such cruelty and fight battles to showcase their work to the world. What are your views?
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