The year 2016 is concluding in a weeks time. With respect to cinema it has been a mixed year, the cinema business sustained in the first three quarters of the year. In October 2016, the cinema owners and distributors announced a ban on the release of Bollywood movies which hugely impacted the business of cinemas in the last quarter of 2016. The self imposed ban is finally lifted on 19th December 2016.
While there are tales of success and failures at the box office, there are also few films which were denied the right of screening by the government authorities. In our country in order to screen a film it must get a screening certificate or censor certificate from the three censor boards active in our country
Punjab Board for Film Certification (PBFC) has jurisdiction over the whole Punjab province excluding the cantonment areas. Sind Board for Film Certification (SBFC) covers the whole province of Sindh excluding the cantonement areas. Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) covers the provinces of Balochistan, KPK and Federal Capital Islamabad as well as the Federally administered areas of FATA, Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. CBFC also covers the cantonment areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces.
In order to screen a locally produced film it must get a screening certificate from any of these three film certification boards. For the foreign films an additional step is required. At the first step the distributor writes to the Federal Ministry of Commerce with the intention to import a film. After examining the content of the film the Ministry of Commerce issues a Non Objection Certificate (NOC) to the distributor and the film is imported. Once imported the film must obtain a screening certificate from any of the three functional Film Certification Boards like a local film. The film certification boards can also seek the advise of Federal Ministry of Information for the screening of a film if the board does not reach a decision about the screening of the film.
This article is a compilation of all such films which failed to get either the NOC for import or the screening certificate from the Film Certification boards and thus banned from releasing in the cinemas. The most frequent reason put forth by the government authorities (Ministry of Commerce/Information or Film Certification Boards) for banning these films was the Anti-State or Anti-Pakistan content or theme of these films. Apart from Anti-State content reason, some films were banned due to adult or mature content.
Most of the films (99.9%) banned were Indian Bollywood films, whereas one local Urdu film also came under the axe of censor.
One film Sarabjit included in this list was not banned, but it is included here due to rumors of its ban.
Kiya Kool Hain Hum 3 (کیا کول ہیں ہم 3)
The first banned film of 2016 was the Bollywood’s Kiya Kool Hain Hum 3 (KKHH3). Due to release on the 22nd January 2016, the film was duly imported on time and presented before the CBFC.
Generally in Pakistan, the content of the Bollywood film is regarded as obscene and bold. But ironically the same films prove the first choice of the cine goers and perform very well.
The Film Certification board which seldom shows discontent over the obscene content of Bollywood films banned KKHH3 on the same basis. The content of Kiya Kool Hain Hum was declared “out-and-out obscene” by the CBFC chairperson Mobashir Hasan.
As per Mobashir Hasan
“It is an out-and-out obscene film that not only shows nudity but also has a lot of vulgar content in its dialogues. The board has officially disallowed the film from public viewing and sent a show-cause notice to the distributor,” Mobashir Hasan, the CBFC chairperson told The Express Tribune. “The problem with this film is that we couldn’t even allow it with an Adult rating, it so vulgar,” he further added.
Fakhre-Alam, chairperson of the Sindh Board of Film Certification (SBFC) echoed Mobashir’s sentiments. “The film is not suitable for screening,” said Fakhar. “All boards, including Punjab and Sindh, find it unsuitable for public exhibition in cinemas.”
Out right rejection by the three Film Certification Authorities handed the film the distinction of the first banned film of 2016.
Due to release on 19th February 2016, Bollywood’s Neerja was based on the courage of Neerja Bhanot an Indian air steward.
The film centers on the Libyan-backed Abu Nidal Organization’s hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 September 1986. The film is shown from the point of view of the flight’s head purser, Neerja Bhanot, who thwarted the hijack attempt by alerting the pilots, thus grounding the plane; Bhanot gave her life to help save 359 of the 379 passengers and crew on board.
The Government of Pakistan recognized the contributions of Neerja Bhanot by awarding her Tamgha-e-Insaaniyat (for showing incredible human kindness). However the same government represented by the Ministry of Commerce has other ideas regarding the screening of this film in Pakistan.
Initially the Ministry of Commerce issued the NOC to the distributor IMGC required to import the film. However later it revoked the NOC without stating any exact reason. Without any NOC, the film was not imported in Pakistan and thus not presented for the film certification.
Maalik (مالک) is a locally produced Urdu film released on 8th April 2016 after obtaining the screening certificates from all the three Film Certification boards. The film marked the comeback of Dhuwaan (1994 PTV drama) famed Aashir Azeem after a gap of almost 20 years. The film was directed and produced by Aashir who also played the lead role. The film performed average at box office and entered third week of business before making headlines in the press.
After screening for three weeks suddenly the SBFC revoked its screening license objecting at its content as anti-state and presenting some ethnicities in an irresponsible manner and thus its screening halted in the Sindh province. Aashir Azeem obtained a stay order from the Sindh High Court against the decision of SBFC. Two days later CBFC added the further twist to this tale by revoking the screening license of Maalik thus depriving it from screening through out Pakistan. CBFC stated the same reason of anti-state theme, provoking violence and irresponsible depiction of few ethnicities.
Aashir Azeem challenged the decision of the CBFC in the superior court. After three months of hearing the superior court allowed the screening of the film in September 2016. Thus Maalik was re-released in September 2016 and continued screening through out September and October.
The hurdles faced by Aashir Azeem regarding the screening of Maalik eventually lead to an announcement of shelving his next project for an indefinite time period.
Released in India on 19th May 2016, Bollywood’s Sarabjit is based on the life of Sarabjit Singh. Sarabjit Singh was an Indian spy who was caught, trialed and imprisoned in Pakistan. He was killed in the prison after an attack by a fellow prisoner.
No distributor from Pakistan contacted the Ministry of Commerce for NOC to import this film. Thus the film is never imported nor presented before the Film certification board. Still the film was part of rumors that it is banned in Pakistan. Officially it is not banned as no distributor asked the government for NOC at is not presented before any government bodies.
Bollywood’s Dishoom was due to release on 29th July 2016. The film was duly imported by the distributor after obtaining an NOC from the Ministry of Commerce. However the film failed to obtain a screening certificate from CBFC.
As per the press reports, the film Dishoom shows the two leads attempting to kidnap an Indian cricketer before an India-Pakistan cricket match in UAE. CBFC initially approved the screening but referred it to the Ministry of Informtion for further advice. The ministry of Information eventually decided against its screening declaring negative portrayal of Pakistan in the film as the reason.
As the film was imported, its was advertised in the print media by its distributor. The lead artist of the film Varun Junaid Dhawan also displayed his disappointment in a tweet when the film was not released in Pakistan.
Happy Bhaag Jaye Gi (ہیپی بھاگ جاۓ گی)
Bollywood’s Happy Bhaag Jaye Gi (HPJG) was due to release on 19th August 2016. The film stars Pakistani artist Javed Sheikh and his daughter Moomal Sheikh in supporting roles.
The film was duly imported by the distributor and presented before CBFC. Being a film of light comedy genre it was expected to pass the axe of the censor board easily. The film was promoted by its distributor in the print media. It was expected to do well in Pakistan due to the presence of local artists. Unexpectedly the film faced a last minute road block in the CBFC. CBFC objected to few scenes and dialogues of the film which as per them were anti-Pakistan.
Eventually the CBFC referred the film to the Ministry of Information and in the end the film was not released. The ban was unexpected as no one thought that a light comedy Bollywood film can be declared as anti-Pakistan by Ministry of Information.
The English Daily Express Tribune later published the dialogues and scenes which were considered objectionable by the CBFC.(http://tribune.com.pk/story/1169800/censor-board-notes-reveal-dialogues-may-halted-happy-bhaag-jayegi-release/)
– Entire first scene of seminar/conference be excised
– Shots of slapping Pakistani policemen by Bagga be excised
– The dialogue in front of Quaide-Azam’s portrait , “ Or Kitnay Jhoot Bulwaogay” be erased
– The shot of Pakistani policemen saluting the photo of Gandhi on Indian currency note be excised
– Drinking scenes of Pakistani girls be excised
– “Kaash Gandhi Pakistan Mae Hoti”
– “Bera Gharak”
– “Teri Behen Di. Teri Maa Di”
– “Suar Dae Puttar. Ben Dae Takkay”
– “Tension Pakistan Ko Honi Chahiye”
– “Bewqaoofon Ki Basti”
– “Kia Dais Hai , Jab Koi Baat Hee Nahin Karta, Bandoqq Dikhaye Baghair”
– “Teri Bhai Ki Shaadi Rukwanay Mae Parosi Mulka Ka Haath HaiIndia Ka Namak, Poora Pakistan Khaata Hai”
– “Teen Hindustanion Nae Lahore Ko Waqt Dala Hai”
Javed Sheikh and Moomal Sheikh were criticized for working in the film which was deemed inappropriate by the CBFC. However Moomal and Javed defended their act as none of the objectionable scene or dialog was shot on them.
Happy Bhaag Jaye Gi was the last banned film of the year 2016. As stated above in October 2016 a wholesome ban on the Bollywood films was announced by film distributors and exhibitors which lasted till 19th December 2016. Now the ban has been lifted and screening of the Bollywood films will commence in coming weeks. However no Bollywood film is expected to be added in this list in the remaining one week of the year 2016.
Do share your thoughts on the banned films of 2016. Especially Maalik which was banned first allowed screening and then banned and eventually superior court removed the ban.
Also comment on the banning of Bollywood films like Happy Bhaag Jaye Gi and Dishoom which were of comedy genre but still failed to clear the censor board criteria. Also in case of Neerja does our censor board and relevant ministry is over reacting to any Bollywood film which has a reference to Pakistan?
Thanks for reading and your time.
Rashid Nazir Ali