Sarmad Khoosat is one director/producer who is known for his unconventional storytelling and bold takes on societal dilemmas. His productions such as Manto earned him widespread critical acclaim.
Now Khoosat is all ready to release his new movie, titled “Zindagi Tamasha” which recounts a story of a “religious” man shunned after a video of him dancing at a wedding goes viral.
However the release has been halted after Sarmad has been bombarded with threats by extremist factions of the society. The director took to twitter to voice his disappointment over the threats.
میں بھی پاکستان ہوں
An open letter to:@ImranKhanPTI@ArifAlvi #Chiefjusticeofpakistan #Chiefofthearmystaffpakiatan#ministerofinformationpakistan@DanyalGilani #censorboardofpakistan #ZindagiTamasha #pakistanicinema pic.twitter.com/D10lS1V1gw
— Sarmad Khoosat (@KhoosatSarmad) January 16, 2020
In his open letter to the executives of the country, Sarmad stated the timeless efforts he has invested in the film and also how he is being constantly pressurized by certain groups to back off from the release.
Several showbiz personalities took to social media to stand with Sarmad and his freedom of artistic expression. They re-posted his open letter to the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, to further call out the way art and expression is being threatened in the country.
The government must address this at the earliest. Filmmaking in Pakistan is already a tough challenge; those who dare to venture into it need to be encouraged and appreciated https://t.co/H2ZP1Wjd8H
— Humayun Saeed (@iamhumayunsaeed) January 18, 2020
Time and again we are made to realise our power and our influence. A film ( that people haven’t seen) can make some this scared.
Mushkil ko bata ke tera Allah kitna bara hai @KhoosatSarmad https://t.co/AGVeTl8Dfh
— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) January 19, 2020
The official censor board has cleared this film.
The unofficial censor board – the one that wields street power – is threatening Sarmad Khoosat and his team.
Deeply disturbing and problematic. https://t.co/m6hac9qKOC
— Mira Sethi (@sethimirajee) January 19, 2020
Not only that, people from various walks of life are now standing up for the release of the film and expressing their solidarity with Sarmad Khoosat.
#ZindagiTamasha is all about we girls want to address. Its all about what a sect which is considered as sacred one has so manipulated our lives and made us to live in hell. We shame victims of rape, acid attacks, domestic violence, cyber attacks, misogynist remarks,👇 https://t.co/Hszw6DKreC
— Marwah Khan (@MarwahKhan64) January 22, 2020
Sarmad Khoosat is the MANTO of this era.
Manto too, was misunderstood & received backlash for depicting the dark truth of the society.
Manto was jailed 3 times for "obscenity" which clearly was nothing but exactly what he saw happening around.#SarmadKhoosat #ZindagiTamasha pic.twitter.com/oSYeTcTZtj
— Safia diya (@pukhtana_tweets) January 22, 2020
A psalmist's video goes viral in which he can be seen dancing on a song at a wedding so people socially boycott the poor guy and make his life miserable. What's anti-Islamic about this plot? That cleric is the main protagonist.#SarmadKhoosat #ZindagiTamasha
— Modest Muslim (@muslim_modest) January 23, 2020
I wish if all these threats and effort were against rapists and murderers rather than against a film. We choose to cover our wounds rather than treating them.
Waqayi #ZindagiTamasha hai.
— Syma Tasaduq (@SymaTasaduq) January 22, 2020
Some people were quick to point the obvious irony of the whole situation.
Pakistan is one of top countries for search of sexual contents. There are lots of male female religious preachers available on social media describing sex very graphically on the name of religion in front of live audience & huge followings. No problem with that? #ZindagiTamasha
— ch laylpuri (@punjabi144) January 23, 2020
— Aizaz Ahmad Ghani (@aizazahmadghani) January 23, 2020
The controversy over the film has again revealed the deep divisions in Pakistani society as religious groups have grown more vocal in recent years. A spokesperson for the political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) was quoted in local media as saying the film’s content was “blasphemous”.
Earlier Zindagi Tamasha had its world premier at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival last year, where it was awarded the top fiction prize.However Pakistanis are still in waiting to see the movie that is expected to hit us in the right spot.Banning and threatening people from expressing their views in any form is the biggest act of bigotry and its must be stopped to make our society more tolerant and progressive in the long run.