ISLAMABAD: Release of a Pakistani feature film ‘Zindgi Tamasha’, based on misuse of blasphemy law and intolerance in Pakistani has been postponed, as the federal government fears the movie might create unrest in some segments of society.

Pakistani filmmaker and actor Sarmad Khoosat’s movie was scheduled for Friday, January 24, and was earlier cleared by the censor boards of the federal government, the Punjab and the Sindh provinces.

However, after a letter by the hardliner religious party Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the government has decided to ban its release.

This is the second time screening of the feature film has been postponed. Earlier it was to be screened by local theatres in October last year.

The Central Board of Film Censors’ (CBFC) has decided to approach the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to deliberate over the matter and give their expert opinion for allowing or disallowing the movie.

The film ran into trouble last year after its trailer was released.

The film is based on the misuse of blasphemy law which is usually a ‘no-go area’ by the filmmakers, movie stars and drama producers.

It is about the life of a maulvi (a religious scholar of ordinary calibre) who faces the charges after posting a video reciting poems about Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

After the trailer was released on YouTube, the CBFC received a letter from TLP demanding a ban on the movie saying it might provoke religious sentiments of the masses. The TLP also announced countrywide protests.

As a result, first the trailer of the movie was taken down and then the release was postponed.

Sarmad Khoosat on January 7, in a letter had appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to help him release the movie scheduled for January 24.

Taking to Twitter, Khoosat, in an open letter to the prime minister, said, “24th of January was set as the release date. However, a ‘complaint’ was registered against the writer, the producer and myself, based on assumptions made from the two and a half minute long trailer.”

A spokesperson of the CII on Thursday confirmed to the Gulf News the council has received a letter from the CBFC dated January 21 inviting “a panel of religious scholars of the CII to preview the above-mentioned film as per Rule-9 of the Censorship Film Rules, 1980”.

“We have received the letter and the council has decided to take up the matter on priority basis,” said the spokesperson. Initially, we shall send the movie to a four-member committee of the Department of Research that will prepare a comprehensive report on the central idea and possible impact of its release on people’s minds, he added.

Earlier, 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.”

However, after sending the movie to CCI for ‘expert’ opinion, it seems now that the movie might not see light of the day.

He added that he did not want to create 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”.

Coming out in support of Khoosat, Pakistani showbiz star 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.