The screening of Yasir Hussain and Ayesha Omar’s crime drama – a biopic on a renowned serial killer, Javed Iqbal – has been blocked only days after its Karachi premiere and just days before its theatrical release.
Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer was scheduled to hit cinemas nationwide today until the Punjab government issued a notice about the film’s release being halted. Following the Punjab government‘s orders, CBFC (Central Board of Film Censors) has also ordered the film to not be released.
“Punjab Information and Culture Department stopped the release of Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer due to the objection over the film from the public,” a senior official of Punjab Film Censor Board confirmed to The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity. “All boards will re-examine the film and further decisions about the film whether it should be released or not.”
The official further added, “We haven’t yet announced the date of re-examine but whenever we will decide, we shall brief the public. This isn’t the first time a release of the film was stopped.”
A CBFC spokesperson also shed light on the matter and commented, “CBFC has halted the release of a film on Javed Iqbal. We are yet to consider its re-examination. CBFC Chairman Arshad Munir has a clear stance in this regard as it will be stopped for release but other provinces can re-examine it according to their policy.”
Following the 18th amendment, Pakistan now has a separate censor board for every province. Since KP and Balochistan have not formed a censor board of their own, the respective boards rely on CBFC’s verdict on the films, which is otherwise only responsible for certifying films being played in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and cantonment areas across the country. In light of this situation, it is likely that films won’t release in KP and Balochistan in general.
It is pertinent to mention that when the film delayed its release from December to January, the makers were still awaiting a green signal from Islamabad Censor Board.
Hussain expressed disappointment in the film’s unexpected fate. “We never received a response from Islamabad Censor Board back in the day,” the actor told The Express Tribune. “So, we decided to release the film with approvals from Punjab and Sindh censor boards. Now, after we have had our Karachi premiere of the film, Punjab government decided to stop its release.”
He added, “We aren’t sure about the film’s release in Sindh as well. But Sindh only has a number of cinemas. It’s Punjab which helps with the revenue.” Hussain then commented, “I think the cinemas will only screen the first and last episodes of dramas.”