Censoring movies

Published November 30, 2022

AS a former member of the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC), Islamabad, I wish to share with the public the procedures followed when feature films, publicity films and cartoons meant for public viewing are presented for approval.

The intended film is screened for a panel of usually 15 members who are specialists in various fields of life. The full length of the film is critically watched by the panel. Any member can ask the operator to pause the reel if there is any objectionable scene, action or voice clip in the context of religious beliefs, social values, national integrity and such other concerns.

The objectionable scene may be replayed so that the rest of the panel may also have a rethink on the point raised. In case of a consensus, the objectionable part is removed from the film. Thereafter, after viewing the entire length of the movie, the board issues permit for the film to be exhibited for public entertainment. Also, the board can ban the entire film if the relevant rules are not followed.

The film Joyland, made over a lengthy period of six years, earned a great name both for the producer and its cast, and projected a soft image of the country on the global scale by earning laurels and critical acclaim.

In Pakistan, after it was cleared by the CBFC, the public was awaiting its release in cinemas, but, apparently, a senator supported by a section of society raised certain unfounded objec-tions against it. The Information Ministry, to my surprise, obliged even though the CBFC permit remained as valid as it ever was. It is a sad commentary on how trust in public institutions is diluted, and how a government itself encourages such a negative trend.

Sayed GB Shah Bokhari
Peshawar

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2022

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