LAHORE: Actor-filmmaker Sarmad Khoosat’s upcoming film, Zindagi Tamasha, has come under fire ahead of its scheduled release on Jan 24, as claimed by Khoosat in his social media posts that he is receiving threatening calls and messages regarding the movie.

Amidst all the chatter, mainly on social media, the team is contemplating whether to release the film or not.

The film’s co-producer and Sarmad’s sister, Kanwal Khoosat, told Dawn through a text message: “Yes, it’s not decided whether to release or to hold back the film.”

On Sunday, Sarmad tweeted as well as wrote on Facebook that he was receiving “dozens of threatening phone calls and messages”, and questioned if he should “withdraw Zindagi Tamasha”.

Renowned actors, including Sanam Saeed, Mahira Khan, Humayun Saeed and Mira Sethi among others, have backed Sarmad and called for the authorities concerned to step in and facilitate the release of the film.

On Thursday, the filmmaker had addressed an open letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, claiming – without taking names -- that there were attempts to stop his film from releasing despite it being cleared by the central censor board.

On Sunday, he posted another open letter, this time addressed to “my beloved Pakistan and Pakistanis”, questioning whether he should withdraw Zindagi Tamasha or not. He clarified in his letters that the film did not contain any objectionable content and had already been cleared by the censor boards.

TLP: Meanwhile, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, led by the firebrand Khadim Rizvi, has announced a protest rally against Zindagi Tamasha, calling it “blasphemous”.

Talking to Dawn, Pir Zubair, the party’s spokesman, said the trailer showed the film made fun of all aspects of faith.

When asked how they could determine the concept of the film from a two-minute trailer, he made a proverbial remark: “One does not have to eat an entire dish to confirm its taste – one bite is enough. The trailer has given us a sense of the movie. Why not pre-empt it?”

When reminded that the film has been cleared by the censor board, Zubair said the board must answer how blasphemous content went past it.

“The party plans to hold a protest rally on Wednesday (tomorrow), led by Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, from Data Darbar to the Punjab Assembly. Local branches of the party will take out rallies in other parts of the country.”

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020

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