Despite lifted ban, Maalik faces challenges We are happy that the ban on our film Maalik has been lifted and it is being screened again. Now the cine-goers should watch the film, so that they’re able to see if there was anything that called for a ban on it.”
This was said by Maalik director Aashir Azeem while speaking to the media at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday evening.
The story of the ban
Mr Azeem said six months ago Maalik was launched after being passed by all three censor boards of the country. He said it ran in cinema halls for 19 days after which the Sindh government imposed a ban on it.
Four hours later, he said, the Sindh government lifted the ban, but subsequently the federal government banned it from being screened without giving any reason. He said the ban was placed as per a 1979 ordinance.
When we went to court, he said, the federal government gave us a list of some 200 people (with their names and contact numbers) who it said had objected to the film. He said when they phoned one of the people on the list, that person said he had never complained about the movie and had himself worked for the Censor Board.
He said this made them realise that the federal government was lying about the matter. He said they didn’t deem it right to call each and every person, so they gave the list to the media. He said Fareeha on a local TV channel did a live show on the issue and phoned the people on the list. He said whoever she called told her that they hadn’t lodged any complaint.
Mr Azeem termed it “a very shameful thing”. He said theirs was the first film in the history of Pakistan, which after being approved by the censor boards and running for 19 days, was banned by giving evidence which was “fabricated”.
He said after six months Sindh’s double bench headed by the Chief Justice gave a verdict saying that the federal government’s ban was wrong and it struck down the government’s decision. He said those six months were very difficult for his team.
The future of Maalik
He thanked the media for supporting them. He said the rescreening of the film was hard because cinemas had already booked other films. He said the damage was done; now the film wouldn’t get the kind of slots it earlier would have. But, he said, the good thing about the rescreening was that the people could go and see for themselves that there was nothing in the film which called for the ban.
Replying to a question, Mr Azeem said not a single frame from the film had been edited out. He said even if he wanted to do that, he couldn’t because the Censor Board had given it the certificate and cutting out a scene would mean that the certificate was not given due importance (“certificate kharab ho jaey ga”). He said if he were willing to chop off scenes, then he wouldn’t have fought its case in a court of law.
On the losses that his films incurred, Mr Azeem said it would be difficult to “quantify” it. When he was asked that since he’s a customs officer himself, he must have faced pressure from the government, Mr Azeem replied that he had left his job after 28 years of service. He said: “On June 29, I resigned from the service of the government.” He said he took premature retirement, and with effect from Aug 1, 2016 he’s no longer a customs officer.