The Pakistani film industry has been the most prominent area where entertainment rises. People wait long years for Pakistani good films to be released in cinemas and somehow things don’t work out.
There have been a lot of Pakistani films which got banned by the censor board or sometimes religious parties get involved in it.
‘I’ll Meet You There’ new project starring Pakistani British actor Farhan Tahir who got fame in the first Iron Man. Along with him Pakistan’s veteran actor Qavi Khan, Nikita Tewani, Sheetal Sheth, Shawn Parsons, Andrea Cirie, Nitin Madan, Michael Pemberton, Samrat Chakrabarti, and Rachit Trehan were part of this amazing film.
Technically the film was officially released internationally, but in Pakistan, it was about to release, and unfortunately, it won’t. As it has been banned by the Central Board of Film Censors.
The Censor board claimed that “film does not reflect true Pakistani culture, portrays a negative image of Muslims”.
I’ll Meet You There got banned in Pakistan
An award-winning director Iram Parveen Bilal, the film is said to be a “modern and moving portrait of three generations of a Muslim-American family.” The story revolved around the character Majeed a Chicago policeman, and his teenage daughter Dua, a gifted ballerina. They were unexpectedly visited by his father from Pakistan.
According to Variety, “The CBFC found the film unsuitable for the public exhibition because it does not reflect true Pakistani culture, portrays a negative image of Muslims and is against the social and cultural values of Pakistan. The CBFC has refused to grant a censorship certificate on these grounds.”
A senior official at CBFC confirmed that the film has been banned in Pakistan. He shared, “I’ll Meet You There was reviewed by the full board of CBFC, and after watching it was decided that the film is not suitable to be given NOC for a release in the country. Some several controversial topics and details opposed our policy. The board unanimously agreed on a ban.”
Up till now, Punjab Film Censor Board didn’t review the film, they were about to do it but soon the CBFC announced that the ban news, Punjab censor board skipped the review of the film.
‘Film has a purpose to combat Islamphobia’ – Bilal
While talking to the Variety, Iram Parveen shared his views on the ban “I’ve been mulling over the decision by the Central Board of Film Censors, calling our film I’ll Meet You There a ‘negative image of Muslims.’
A film that was made with blood, sweat, and tears by a Muslim, financed by Muslims, and made in the face of a post 9/11 world and a Trump presidency; a film whose very purpose was to combat Islamophobia and to create a positive portrayal of Muslims.
A film already released abroad and celebrated widely by the Muslim Pakistani diaspora and seen as a needed and humanized representation of our people. How could that intention be reframed so oppositely and so negatively?”
She continued, “I feel the answer lies in the direction of the belief that ‘Muslims’ and ‘Pakistanis’ are not a monolith, that they are a living, breathing, agreeing, the disagreeing body of people who happen to identify with the same faith and/or nationality.
So, then who gets to decide what an aligned or misaligned value system is when the value system itself is not a single presentation but a spectrum of values; of erring human beings, growing and adjusting to life and its complex challenges, one day at a time.”
The filmmaker further added that she “respectfully disagrees that there is just one notion of what Pakistan and Pakistani values are.
When we ask the diaspora to contribute and donate when we even care to enable them to vote in elections, then we should also include their troubles, identity struggles, and issues as ‘Pakistani.’ Let’s please end the elitism that a nation or religion can only belong to a select few.”
She went on to comment, “Such fearful silencing is not the way forward for a country that is vibrantly developing in population, promise, and identity. We as artists have a responsibility to showcase and provoke thought, to inspire and engage with a society that is equally provoking and expanding.”
It is disappointing – Farhan Tahir
The actor also expressed his disappointment, “It is disheartening, disappointing and shameful that issues that Pakistani ex-pats face in their lives are trivialized and labeled as ‘not reflecting true Pakistani culture.’
We, Pakistanis, represent our country with love and pride every day while living in foreign lands. We do this to support our families and loved ones. We do this to support our country financially and in every other way.
We do this with nothing but love for our country and yet to be cast aside by our very own is deeply hurtful.’
Tewani highlighted, “In a time where the world is so fragmented, so separated based on everyone’s individual political and social beliefs, it is refreshing to see a film like ‘I’ll Meet You There,’ a work of art, about people persuading each other to see the world the way they do, and eventually meeting someplace in the middle.
To make any sweeping judgments about anyone’s mindset present in the film is to misinterpret it, to see it from a narrow perspective instead of the big picture, when in fact, no one is right and no one is wrong. That’s where they meet.”
It’s not the first time any Pakistani film got banned, Sarmad Khoosat’s Zindagi Tamasha also received a big backlash ban from the religious leaders and government. After a long year, the censor board and government approved the film to be released on the 18th of March.
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