Sarmad Khoosat’s ‘Zindagi Tamasha’ will be released in Pakistani cinemas on March 18th, after a years long battle with the censorship board.
The movie was originally slated for release in January 2020, but was censured after the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) called for protests against its release, alleging the film was ‘blasphemous.’ Although the Senate Committee for Human Rights had approved the film’s screening, it had not gotten a public screening in Pakistan until now.
The film follows the travails of a naat Khawaan (a person who recites religious poetry) named Rahat – a devout Muslim beloved by his community. However, after a video of him goes, viral, he looses the support of his community, bringing shame to himself and his family.
Despite its delayed release in Pakistan, the movie has garnered international acclaim. In 2019, it premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, where it was the first Pakistani film to win the prestigious Kim Ji-Seok Award. Later, it won the Snow Leopard Award for Best Film at the 6th Asian World Film Festival in 2021. The film was also Pakistan’s official film entry in the International Feature Film Award category for the Academy Awards in 2020, despite never having been shown in the country.
The film was by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat and stars Arif Hasan and Eman Suleman.
Before the film was scheduled for release this year, director Sarmand had said, “I made this film in Pakistan and foremost, for Pakistan, for my people and the misfortune that my people have remained deprived of it weighs quite heavy on my artistic conscience.”