Enjoyment of Joyland



When the loudspeaker was first introduced in the subcontinent, a fatwa was issued that it is a satanic device and its use in mosques is absolutely forbidden.

Enjoyment of Joyland
Enjoyment of Joyland


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Today, there is no mosque where the call to prayer is not given over loudspeakers and no religious gathering where full-blast speakers are not used to display the essence of the flame.

When TV was introduced, it was considered a medium for spreading nudity and obscenity. Condemnation slogans were written on the walls. To this day, there are many villages where TV sets are broken or set on fire to hide the image in protest of a controversial TV program. The difference is that only those TV sets that are already unusable are broken.

Around 15 years ago, I went to Hangu in the southern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in connection with reporting. The local Assistant Political Agent there told the story that a resident of suburban Sada returned from Dubai on holiday and brought a color TV set with him. But the Jirga decided that TV will not come in the village, it will spoil the children.

To ensure this decision, Dubai Pulat Bachare TV was stoned. The next year, when he came back with leave, before going home, he bought an anti-aircraft gun smuggled from the Afghan war from the arms market of the next village and installed it on the roof of his house, and then he also brought a TV set. This time the turn of stoning did not come and it was seen and the sound of TV broadcasting started coming from the houses too.

Today most religious programs including special Ramadan and Muharram broadcasts are owed to TV. Many scholars have become celebrities on the bill of this tool and their fans number from hundreds to millions.

My own thought was that although the medium of loudspeaker and TV has become popular among the religious community, the medium of film will never be popular. Because film access is ticket dependent and limited compared to TV. But in 2019, this idea of ​​mine was also proved wrong when Sarmad Khost’s film ‘Zindagi Tamasha’ was accused of blasphemy by Tehreek-e-Labaik even before its release.

However, the censor board that issued him the acceptance certificate didn’t feel that way. However, when two representatives of the religious party were seated in an additional session of the Censor Board and the film was shown, they also felt that there was a big difference between hearing and watching. Despite this, the film has been shelved for four years, as the state is not ready to take any responsibility.

This is what happened last week with the transgender film ‘Joyland’. Incidentally, its producer is also Sarmad Khost. Not only the federal but also the Punjab and Sindh censor boards issued a nationwide exhibition certificate. But Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, even before the release of the film, called it a conspiracy to smooth public opinion for the passage of the controversial Transgender Bill.

He also argued that although he has not seen the film himself, he has heard that the hero’s name is Haider (which it shouldn’t be) and that the transgender character he falls in love with is Beba. And Biba calls a man. This means that actually there is a conspiracy to make the love of a man acceptable to a man and to destroy the Islamic rituals and this is not acceptable in any case.

While none of the members of the Censor Board understood this logic. Still, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif formed an eight-member review committee consisting of five ministers, who after watching the film gave an opinion that overall the story of this film does not conflict with Eastern and religious values, so there is no harm in showing it. .

Then suddenly, the coalition government of Muslim League-Q and PTI in Punjab got upset and rejected the certificate issued by the Provincial Censor Board and temporarily banned the exhibition of Joyland within the boundaries of the province.

Since the film has also been nominated for the foreign category of the Oscars after winning awards at the Cannes Film Festival, it is expected that sanity will eventually prevail. If this does not happen, then it will happen that this film is halal in the federal boundaries of Islamabad and Sindh, but in the provincial boundaries of Rawalpindi, this film will be considered haram.

In other words, this film will also become the ostrich whose meat can be bought and sold legally as a pet in Punjab. But in Sindh, the status of ostrich is a wild animal, so its meat cannot be sold.

In Pakistan, films are censored under the Motion Pictures Ordinance of 1989. This law was made during the Zia era. Under its clause nine, any film can be banned in the interest of the greatness of Islam, ideology of Pakistan and local cultural values. Since there is no coherent legal interpretation of the majesty of Islam, the ideology of Pakistan and local cultural values, these three terms can be twisted by any government or group like a blind man.

Since filmmakers and cinema owners can’t protect themselves, anyone can project their masculinity on this medium. Whether the film has been released or not. These days ‘Legend of Moolah Jat’ is creating a new history of popularity inside and outside Pakistan. While the original Moolah Jat was pulled from the theaters three times after its release in 1999 due to alleged controversial content and violent scenes, and then it was allowed to be screened only after the order of the High Court.

The first film to be shelved in Pakistan was the 1969 director AR Kardar’s ‘Jago Hua Sawira’. It was the story of the struggle of a farmer from a village in East Pakistan against the abuses of a moneylender. But Ayub Khan’s martial law government did not like this story so much that it banned it. However, this was the first Pakistani film to win international acclaim.

Its screenplay was written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. But Ms. Fatima Jinnah did not understand the eastern values ​​and ideology of Pakistan which General Ayub’s government had. Then General Sahib also clearly saw the hidden Indian agent in the person of Fatima Jinnah. In such an environment, what is the time of Bhalla Faiz or the film written by him? Then it is said to put objectivity in the film. When objectivity is inserted, it is said to remove it now. It is surprising that filmmakers are not losing heart even in such an environment.

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