Sarmad Khoosat Is Receiving Death Threats Over “Zindagi Tamasha” & It’s Not OK

sarmad khoosat
Source: Something Haute

Sarmad Khoosat was all set to launch his film Zindagi Tamasha on 24th January until last weekend when he started receiving death threats. It is important to point out here that the film has been cleared by all the three censor boards operating in Pakistan.

Earlier in an open letter to the President of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff, Minister of Information, and Pakistanis in general he poured his heart out shedding light on his work as an artist for his country.

Sarmad Khoosat was forced to make it clear that his film Zindagi Tamasha was an artistic expression of fiction.

He wrote, “I started working on Zindagi Tamasha two years ago, excited to make a contribution to the evolution of cinema in Pakistan and to cater my need for artistic expression.”

Like any other film, made in any part of the world, Zindagi Tamasha is a reflection of its setting. My team and I explored themes around gender constructs, class divisions and complex human experiences. There was never any intention to attack, to point fingers at or humiliate any individual or institution.

Sarmad Khoosat

He further added that the film had been cleared by all the censor boards in Pakistan and has already premiered internationally. “It also became the first Pakistani feature film (fiction) to win an award at a major international film festival.”

The Manto actor brought to attention that a “complaint” was registered merely on the basis of the film’s trailer and in response the censor board suggested some changes which he made.

“As a law-abiding citizen and with full conviction that there is nothing offensive or malicious in Zindagi Tamasha, I submitted the film for another review to the censor board. It was cleared once again with a few cuts to appease the complainants. Just a week before the release, another attempt is being made by the same group to stop it and this time, they are hell-bent on using pressurising tactics.”

Sarmad Khoosat

Sarmad Khoosat, known for his artistic and unique style of delivery, addressed the authorities and wrote:

“I am bringing this to your notice not just because my team and I are being bullied and pressurised but also because this series of episodes undermines a state institution like the Central Board of Film Censors and strips it of its authority and stature.

The space for rational and artistic thinking and expression must not be annexed by a few troublemakers for their political ends. But I fear this is what will happen if we buckle under this time.”

Three days after his open letter to the government of Pakistan, he once again took to Twitter and shared that he was “getting dozens of threatening phone calls and msgs.”

In yet another heart-rending open letter he wrote, “I did not make Zindagi Tamasha to hurt, offend or malign anyone. It’s a story about a ‘good enough Muslim’ – there is/was no mention of a sect, party or a faction of any sort.”

“As an artist the last thing I’d ever want to achieve through my artistic expression is anarchy or hatred. No! That’s not what an artist does. Or at least I don’t.”

Sarmad Khoosat

He concluded his letter saying that he leaves this matter to Allah, “Apnay Allah ko na batao kay tumhari mushkil kitni bari hai, apni mushkil ko batao tumhara Allah kitna bara hai.

Here is the trailer of Zindagi Tamasha, that is the product of two years of hard work by Sarmad Khoosat and his entire team.

Read: The Trailer Of Zindagi Tamasha Shows Sarmad Khoosat Breaking Stereotypes Again

It is not the first time a film has faced opposition in Pakistan. Earlier Shamoon Abbasi’s Durj was also banned but was later allowed to release.

It really leaves a question on the fate of our film industry and the freedom of expression offered to artists in this country. If people are not free to express themselves and that too in a fictional story then we are way behind in utilizing a medium as huge as cinema to raise awareness about issues that actually matter.