Less than 24 hours after the federal government decided to lift the ban on Saim Sadiq’s Joyland, the government of Punjab issued a notice to the film’s producer, saying that they cannot exhibit the film in the jurisdiction of Punjab province.
Dated November 17, the notice was sent to Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, the producer of Joyland, by the Punjab Information and Culture Department and read that under Section-9, 1 and 2 (a) and (b) of the Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979 and the rules made thereunder, the government has decided to re-call Joyland “in the wake of persistent complaints received from different quarters”.
It also directs Khoosat that the Joyland team cannot exhibit their film in the jurisdiction of Punjab province till the further notice by the Government of Punjab.
Section-9, I and II (a) and (b) suggest that the government may at any stage call for the record of any proceedings in relation to any film that may be pending before or has been decided by the board. After such inquiry into the matter as considered necessary and without notice to the person who has applied for certification of the film, or to whom a certificate in respect of the film has been granted to the distributor or exhibitor of such film, make such order in relation thereto as it thinks fit.
The second part says that the government can direct that a film or class of films in respect of which a certificate has been granted under the Motion Pictures Ordinance or under the Censorship of Films Act, 1963, (XVIII of 1963), shall be deemed to be an uncertified film.
The section also states that no such order can be made by the government unless it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so “in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan”.
Five days ago, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan of the JI shared a copy of the notice dated November 11 that read that the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) Islamabad granted the censor certificate on August 17 this year. However, after receiving complaints that “the film contains highly objectionable material which do not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society and is clearly repugnant to the norms of ’decency and morality; as laid down in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979,” the federal government declared Joyland “uncertified”.
Following backlash, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed an eight-member committee to examine the complaints and recommend action. On Wednesday, head of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms, Salman Sufi tweeted, “The film Joyland has been cleared for release by the censor board review committee formed at the direction of PM Shehbaz Sharif. Freedom of speech is fundamental right and should be nourished within ambits of the law.”
The film stars debutantes Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, and Rasti Farooq alongside some of Pakistan’s beloved and respected actors like Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Sohail Sameer and Salmaan Peerzada and is set to release in Pakistan on November 18.