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Pakistani filmmaker Sarmad Khoosat won’t release Zindagi Tamasha so no one can ban it

After outrage & threats, Sarmad Khoosat's open letter says he must not release Zindagi Tamasha, doesn't want anyone to have 'pleasure' of banning his film.

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New Delhi: Pakistani filmmaker and actor Sarmad Khoosat’s movie Zindagi Tamasha, which was scheduled to release on 24 January, might not see the light of day.

Khoosat posted an open letter on Twitter Sunday and said he was contemplating not releasing the movie after getting several threatening calls and messages.

Zindagi Tamasha is based on the life of a maulvi in Pakistan and the rejection he faces after posting a video reciting poems about Prophet Muhammad. The bilingual movie sheds light on intolerance in society and is directed and co-produced by Khoosat along with his sister Kanwal Khoosat. It stars Eman Suleman, Samiya Mumtaz, Arif Hasan and Ali Qureshi in lead roles.

The film was cleared by all three censor boards in Pakistan and has even won an award at the Busan Film Festival.

‘Did not want to offend, hurt anyone’

In the letter, Khoosat wrote, “I did not make Zindagi Tamasha to offend, hurt or malign anyone. It’s a story abut a ‘good enough Muslim’ — there was/is no mention of a sect/party or faction of any sort.”

He added that he did not want to achieve any sort of anarchy or hatred through his artistic expression. Furthermore, Khoosat wrote, he did not want to give anyone the pleasure of banning his movie because “legally, officially and morally, no one can”.

He declared that he was a “man of faith” and said no one should disturb the peace of “his motherland” or spread hate or anger in the name of Prophet Muhammad.

“Shall I release my film under these conditions? I think I must not,” he wrote in capital letters.

Khoosat also shared one of the threatening letters on Facebook.

Not the first open letter

This is not the first time Khoosat has penned an open letter regarding the movie. On 16 January, he wrote a letter to Pakistan’s President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Information stating that he and his team were being threatened and bullied after the movie’s trailer was released.

The film ran into trouble in October last year after the first trailer was released. The trailer showed the film aimed to shed light on the misuse of the blasphemy law. It was taken down from YouTube and uploaded again with changes.

Addressing a press conference after that, the director had said the decision was made after some people raised concerns over certain scenes.

Coming out in support of Khoosat, Pakistani actress Mahira Khan posted on Twitter: “Time and again we are made to realise our power and our influence.” She remarked how a film that people haven’t seen has scared some.

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