The release of Sarmad Khoosat’s Zindagi Tamasha (Circus Of Life) has been put on hold, after an Islamist political party objected to its portrayal of a ‘struggling’ cleric. According to a BBC report, director Khoosat has claimed to have been subjected to bullying and threats not limited to him, but also his family and team.
The film centres around a man shunned after a video of him dancing at a wedding goes viral. The party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) said that the film, “might lead people to deviate from Islam and the prophet”. Officials have warned that the screening of the film could lead to unrest.
The film has been dubbed ‘blasphemous’ by the political party, bringing to light Pakistan’s highly controversial blasphemy law. Championed by the country’s hardlined religious groups, the accused in such cases have gone on to make global headlines.
Zindagi Tamasha had its international premiere at the Busan International Film Festival, and was supposed to release in Pakistan on January 24. The film was even cleared by the Censor Board, however, it’s now on hold. Khoosat published an open letter to PM Imran Khan saying that he was considering not releasing the film because of the deluge of complaints and threats.
The last time TLP was in news under similar circumstances, was around the Asia Bibi blasphemy case in 2018, where they reportedly resorted to violent protests because of after the Supreme Court overturned her death sentence in the case.
Zindagi Tamasha is the first Pakistani film to win the Kim Ji-seok Award at the Busan International Film Festival.