Sherry Shah and Shamoon Abbasi in a still from DURJ-1570434689124
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Only a few days ahead of its release, actor Shamoon Abbasi’s much-talked-about directorial feature ‘Durj’ was given a thumbs-down by Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC), calling it “inappropriate” for public exhibition. No details were furnished.

To the ‘Waar’ star who had been working on the project for the past couple of years, this came as a rude shock, especially because the film had earlier been passed by the censor boards of Sindh and Punjab provinces. But not getting clearance from the CBFC means he cannot have a commercial showing of the film in the federal capital (Islamabad) as well as the cantonment areas of the country.

An outraged Abbasi took to social media to vent his anger. “If there is any issue in the film, it should be pointed out and we will delete what is concerning for the censor board,” he wrote on his Facebook account. “Banning the film completely seems like a personal vendetta.”

Abbasi also spoke of how the “world censor boards have given 14A certification to ‘Durj’, which explains that the film is viewable for kids above 13 years. Then how come it is unsuitable for viewing in Pakistan, where every kind of masala movies with below the belt jokes are welcomed every year?”

He added, “True stories need to be told to the audiences for awareness.”

He also announced going ahead with the film’s international release “as planned” on October 11. Territories include Canada, the US, the UK, Norway and Denmark.

As unique as its title is, ‘Durj’ tells a tale that has never been told on screen in Pakistan — of cannibalism. It takes inspiration from the gruesome story of a pair of cannibals, in the small town of Darya Khan, who were reported to have dug up more than 100 corpses from the local graveyard and eaten them. The film is a fictional account but it is based on a real story. It features Abbasi and model turned actress Sherry Shah in the lead. Shah is said to have gone bald for the character she plays in the film.