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EditorialA joyless journey of 'Joyland'

A joyless journey of ‘Joyland’

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has allowed the controversial film Joyland to screen in Pakistan after parts were deleted. The full board meeting of the Central Film Censor Board was held on the issue of the screening of the film Joyland and decided to allow the screening of the film after deleting some parts. It should be noted that over the objections of certain schools of thought to the film Joyland, the Prime Minister formed a cabinet committee. The cabinet committee saw the film yesterday and referred the matter to the full board. The film was seen at the full board meeting, and parts of it were deleted. The Full Board allowed the screening of the film Joyland after deleting some parts. Earlier, the ministry had revoked the censor certificate given to the film Joyland’s director months ago, putting a significant obstacle in the way of its domestic release. Joyland, directed by Saim Sadiq, is among the rare masterpieces made by Pakistani people. It made history in May of this year when it became the first Pakistani feature film to take home a feminist-themed prize at the famous Cannes Film Festival. Cinema buffs were very interested in the project’s subject matter because it hadn’t been exhibited in Pakistan.  Celebrities were outraged and demanded the release of the movie ever since a copy of the ban notification appeared on social media. It pretty much has its own objective: Joyland is to be sacrificed on the altar of intolerance and hypocrisy to the disgrace of the nation, rather than being a source of pride and joy for people who want to demonstrate Pakistan’s soft power to the international community.

The film was set to premiere in local theatres this week, but the censor board banned the film after conservative and religious groups dubbed the plot very offensive. The ban on Joyland is the most recent disgraceful illustration of caving in to pressure from an organisation that has stripped humanity from its mission and given itself the authority to uphold a country’s morality. Reacting to the ban development, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed tweeted: “Alhamdulillah! @GovtofPakistan has cancelled the exhibition license issued to the controversial film Joyland. Notification is issued, this is the best move for the government. Pakistan is an Islamic state, no law, no action, no ideology can go against Islam.”  It eventually came to light that the senator pressed the Ministry of State for Information and Broadcasting to halt the showing of the movie because he claimed it promoted the LGBT agenda. The film producer denies the accusations made against the movie, claiming that neither the laws of Pakistan nor Islam were violated in the production. One of the three characters in the movie who doesn’t advance the LGBT agenda is the transwoman. There are many different ways to be able to love and hate. However, the conservative lobby has shown itself to be pretty serious about how sexism and religious intolerance express in society, even while it wants society to focus more on love.

Pakistan has a long history of outlawing attempts at artistic expression, particularly theatre, and cinema, that present bad pictures of the nation, Muslims, Pakistani culture, military coups, and political leaders, among other subjects. It has become wrier in recent years when discussing the threats to the status quo. It’s a strategy that takes on a social media-connected society.  The censor board ought to have displayed more resolve. In the same society whose “values” were evidently inspired by Joyland, he pointed to the “written complaints” that he claimed had led to the decision to ban the picture rather than utilising his earlier excellent judgement.

Important to understand this and shape societies and policies with an eye for inclusion and appreciation of diversity and pluralism. Policies that foster inclusive values need to be pursued for a viable future. It is crucially important to understand this in Pakistan. A top-down effort to forge an inorganic, monolithic identity and pursue a path of assimilation of diverse, multiethnic, and multicultural societies hardly ever works; it backfires and creates resentment and collective pathologies in people.

The government ought to be on the side of history. They should allow our creativity to flourish so that the country can celebrate it. The government needs to understand how cultural snubs and subtle propaganda to demean LGBT people are planted. We wish the government would look at itself in the mirror and put hands on heart collectively, and answer what it did to be humiliated and continuously insulted while being socially, economically, and culturally marginalized and without provincial rights. It is not just cultural appropriation but goes beyond that.

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