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Banned Films in Pakistan

Sensitive issues of image and religion


My Mother's Daughter...

Pakistan film censor bans UK short documentary

Link Here9th March 2023
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
My Mother's Daughter is a 2022 UK documentary short film by Mariam Khan, Ahmen Khawaja IMDb

Mehak was 13 when she was abducted by a man known to her family. He repeatedly raped her and forced her to convert to Islam. She managed to escape but not before making a shocking discovery that changed her life forever.

Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors has banned the short documentary My Mother's Daughter which was due to screen at the Women International Film Festival. Director Mariam Khan shared the letter sent by the censor board which had based its reasons for censoring the film by calling it propaganda as well as for highlighting wrong values which are against the Pakistani culture and society.



Updated: No Joyland...

Pakistan government bans and then unbans film about trans romance, then Punjab re-bans the film

Link Here30th November 2022
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Joyland is a 2022 Pakistan drama by Saim Sadiq
Starring Rasti Farooq, Sarwat Gilani and Ali Junejo IMDb

As the happily patriarchal Rana family craves for the birth of a baby boy, the youngest of the Rana men secretly joins an erotic dance theatre and finds himself falling for a fiercely ambitious trans starlet. Their impossible love story slowly illuminates the entire Rana family's...

Alina Khan, who stars in Joyland, the first major Pakistani film to feature a trans actor in a lead role, said:

I've been very sad. There's nothing against Islam and I don't understand how Islam can get endangered by mere films.

Joyland, which is Pakistan's contender at the Oscars, was set to go on national release, but was banned following pressure from hardline Islamic groups who called the film repugnant.

Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, a senator in the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party, called Joyland cultural terrorism and criticised the government for the shameless act of allowing its release:

 I condemn it and will use every legal step to stop Joyland's release. Glamourising transgenders in Pakistan, as well as their love affairs, is a direct attack on our beliefs.

Cancelling the film's licence, which puts its Oscars' contention in doubt, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said:

Written complaints were received that the film contains highly objectionable material which do not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society and is clearly repugnant to the norms of 'decency and morality' as laid down in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979.

Joyland has been hailed on the festival circuit. It was the first Pakistani film to be selected as an official entry at Cannes in May, winning two festival awards and receiving a standing ovation in a packed Salle Debussy theatre.

Update: Unbanned after cuts

21st November 2022. See article from

Pakistani film Joyland has been unbanned by the censor board of Pakistan after making several scenes were cut.

The full censor board has allowed the local screening of Joyland. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a cabinet committee to look into the matter after some schools of thought had objected to the movie.

Update: Re-banned in Punjab

30th November 2022. See article from

Less than 24 hours after the national government's decision to unban Joyland, the Punjab government blocked the film's release in the province.

The Punjab Information and Culture Department explained that the Punjab government decided to re-call Joyland in the wake of persistent complaints received from different quarters.



Circus of Life...

Film banned in Pakistan for blasphemy is nominated for an Oscar

Link Here30th January 2021
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Zindagi Tamasha (Circus of Life) is a 2019 Pakistan drama by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat.
Starring Arif Hassan, Ali Kureshi and Samiya Mumtaz. IMDb

A devout Muslim who writes composes, and even records hymns praising the Prophet, Muhammad Rahat Khawaja is a respected elderly man who works in real estate and takes care of his bedridden wife. One day, he attends the wedding of a friend's son, where he inadvertently shows off a dance in front of his friends and family. His dance gets recorded and then uploaded to all social media platforms, which then also gets broadcasted on television. And the chaos begins to ensue in his quiet life.

The film was banned in January 2020 over fears of blasphemy but the ban was overruled in July 2020 by Pakistan's Senate Committee for Human Rights. The film was banned after workers of the hardline Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) vowed to hold a countrywide protest against its screening.

The film has now gained further prominence in early 2021 after it was nominated for the Best International Feature Oscar.



Updated: Durj...

Movie banned in Pakistan for its sensitive cannibalism theme

Link Here19th October 2019
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Durj (The Casket) is a 2019 Pakistan crime mystery thriller by Shamoon Abbasi.
Starring Shamoon Abbasi, Sherry Shah and Maira Khan. IMDb

The reality behind a hideous crime is yet to be unveiled as a reporter's wife dives deep within the depths of despair and darkness to seek the truth of her missing husband.

The film was banned in Pakistan by the film censors of the CBFC.

An anonymous source from censor board said the film has been banned because of it's subject. Given that a sensitive topic, such as cannibalism, should not be propagated so openly.

Durj was premiered on the international film festival circuit and seems to have been well received.

For comparison in the UK the film was passed 15 uncut for disturbing scenes, bloody images:


Update: Unbanned

19th October 2019. See article from

The film has been cleared after a second viewing by the Pakistan's Central Censor Board, sources informed The Express Tribune.

Some of the really graphic scenes have been removed for obvious reasons, other than that the film is good to go, said a censor board official, requesting anonymity.



Update: Roasted...

Pakistan's chief film censor gets a roasting in the Supreme Court for his arbitrary ban of the film Maalik

Link Here8th October 2016
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) has conceded before the Supreme Court that the ban on feature film Maalik was imposed without inquiring into the allegations levelled by complainants against the film.

Chairman CBFC Mubashir Hassan conceded this before a two judge bench of the top court which on Friday took up the government's appeal against Sindh High Court's quashing of the government's ban of the film.

Hassan told the court that the board had banned the film on several complaints by the general public against the objectionable script maligning politicians and judiciary. He said that keeping in view the sentiments of public, the members of the board recommended banning the film.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, on the bench, observed that volume of complaints of the public were meaningless unless these complaints are substantive.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial inquired under which law the ban was imposed. He added that there was nothing wrong with institutions being criticised. Justice Qazi observed that under section 9 of Motion Pictures Ordinance 1979 there was nothing objectionable in the film. Qazi reserved a few choice words for Hassan:

You approved the screening of the film and the other day you banned it as your mood changed on a single phone call. Isn't this effectively corruption? What do you people want? Do you want to devastate the Pakistani film industry?

What are you doing being a chairman of responsible institution? You are repeating like a parrot that the ban was imposed in regard with complaints. Is this the job you are doing?

Following the arguments, the top court directed the federal government to submit a report on objectionable contents in the film along with the objectionable part of the script in order to establish the de-certification of the film Maalik. The hearing of the case was adjourned for 15-days.



Updated: Maalik...

Banned by Pakistan's government for portraying a corrupt character a little too closely to an actual minister

Link Here7th September 2016
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Maalik is a 2016 Pakistan action thriller by Ashir Azeem.
Starring Ashir Azeem, Farhan Ally Agha and Sajid Hassan. BBFC link IMDb

An Afghan family that escapes from the ravages of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and settles in Karachi. A SSG officer who undergoes a personal tragedy and starts a private security company (Black Ops Pvt. Ltd) in Karachi. His SSG colleagues keep joining the company on their retirements. An idealist school master who suffers greatly under a cruel Feudal lord and settles in Karachi and finally the Feudal Lord who becomes the Chief Minister of Sindh and unleashes a reign of terror on all that cross his path. Maalik is a story of love, loyalty, honor, family value, idealism, courage and dignity against all odds, and across all sections of society from the poor and the struggling to the highest levels of wealth and power.

The film was removed from cinema screens by government authorities a few weeks after its initial premiere on April 8, 2016. This is in spite of it being cleared by all three censor boards.

The film was flagged by the Sindh government after they accused one of the characters portraying a corrupt former Chief Minister as being too similar to the present Chief Minister of Sindh province. A ministry official told local newspapers:

The information ministry reserves the right to ban any film at any time. Maalik has been banned because it shows a former chief minister as a man of corruption and opulence.

Following numerous appeals from Sindh, the film was eventually banned by the Federal Government across the rest of Pakistan.

The Pakistani government later attempted to ban the export of the film on August 9, 2016, barring it from being shown overseas. However, despite these attempts, the film was set for release in the UK and internationally on August 26, 2016.

Director Ashir Azeem commented on the failed attempt to ban the export of the film:

Authorities in Pakistan are very concerned with how they are perceived, especially abroad. Whereas this might be considered an overreaction in some countries, it has become the go-to method for the authorities to ban content they deem offensive or controversial.

Meanwhile in the UK,  the film was passed 15 uncut for strong violence, sexual threat for 2016 cinema release.

Update: Unbanned by High Court

7th September 2016. See  article from

The Sindh High Court has declared the federal government's controversial ban on film Maalik illegal and cleared it to be screened again.

The federal government had banned Maalik, overruling film censors who had cleared it for its release on April 8. The government banned the film after it had been on release for 3 weeks and did not provide any explanation for banning the film in its notification.

Ashir Azeem, the film's director, had challenged the ban in court saying the ban on Maalik had been imposed by the government without having the authority to do. The authority to establish censor boards was a prerogative of provincial governments following the 18th amendment, he had argued.

And Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah duly cleared the film for screening across the country while ruling the ban illegal.



Update: Baby...

Indian film banned in Pakistan over sensitivity of being depicted as terrorists

Link Here26th January 2015
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Baby is a 2015 India action crime mystery by Neeraj Pandey.
Starring Kerem Sarikaya, Ali Balkan Avci and Zachary Coffin. Youtube link IMDb

An elite counter-intelligence unit learns of a plot, masterminded by a maniacal madman. With the clock ticking, it's up to them to track the terrorists' international tentacles and prevent them from striking at the heart of India.

Baby is an Indian action movie about a spy mission to catch a dreaded terrorist. It has now been banned by Pakistan's film censors. The Dawn newspaper reported:

Censor boards in Islamabad and Karachi have decided to ban the film because it portrays a negative image of Muslims and the negative characters in the film also have Muslim names.

All CDs and DVDs of the film have also been banned in Islamabad. A representative of the film's distributor, Everready Pictures informed the paper that the film has been banned in Pakistan.

Earlier, director Neeray Pandey was quoted as saying that the film was not anti-Pakistan. The board routinely bans films deemed to have anti- Pakistan themes.



Update: A Sea of Troubles...

An Indian take on Hamlet set in Kashmir gets banned by Pakistan's film censor

Link Here18th October 2014
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Haider is a 2014 India crime romance by Vishal Bhardwaj.
Starring Shahid Kapoor, Tabu and Shraddha Kapoor. IMDb

Vishal Bhardwaj's adaptation of William Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', Haider - a young man returns home to Kashmir on receiving news of his father's disappearance. Not only does he learn that security forces have detained his father for harboring militants, but that his mother is in a relationship with his very own uncle. Intense drama follows between mother and son as both struggle to come to terms with news of his father's death. Soon Haider learns that his uncle is responsible for the gruesome murder, what follows is his journey to avenge his father's death.

Citing the film's sensitive content , Pakistan's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) decided against the release of the film in Pakistan. A CBFC employee told The Express Tribune that Haider's controversial topic and propagandist nature are the reasons for this.

A senior official at the CBFC maintained that the film's ban:

Has nothing to do with the ongoing tension between Pakistan and India. Any film that is on a controversial topic, such as the Kashmir issue, will most likely not be released in the country.

The film is against the ideology of Pakistan. We have a professional panel of reviewers that assesses films while keeping in mind factors that a layman can't understand. He stated that certain Hindi words used in a film may seem harmless to an average audience member, but can have adverse effects on our culture.

Distributor Amjad Rasheed commented on not pursuing censor clearance via a local censor board:

We realise the [gravity of the] situation at the Line of Control and if one board has refused to certify the film, then the wise thing to do is not to offer the film at all.

The film has also caused controversy in India. A court in the state of Uttar Pradesh is hearing a petition calling for the film to be banned on the grounds that it was against national interest.



Update: Indian films are better than the local product so have to be banned...

Pakistani film censor refuses to issue certificates as the board gets caught up in a protectionism row with India

Link Here29th November 2013
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
In an unprecedented move by Lahore High Court, Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan issued a contempt notice to the Chairman of the Central Board Film Censorship (CBFC) and senior bureaucrat Syed Arshad Ali for failing to stop the exhibition of illegal foreign films in Pakistan.

The struggle to prohibit the exhibition of Indian films has been deeply connected to efforts to revive the fledging local cinema industry by veteran Lollywood and Punjabi filmmakers. They claim that Indian films hinder the progress of local filmmakers, and their economic gain on Pakistani soil is against the law.

As a result of the notice, the CBFC has refused to is issue a film certificate for the upcoming Bollywood film Bullett Raja .

Ali, the censor board's chairman, issued a statement to the press saying that the censoring of all films had been stopped, and the board would let the courts decide the matter. He maintained that the board had, so far, not censored any smuggled or illegal content; in fact all of the films (including Bullett Raja ) that had been stopped had already been approved by the Ministry of Commerce.



Update: Supercensor...

Pakistan's film censor bans Man of Steel

Link Here2nd August 2013
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion

Pakistan's film censor board has banned the screening of Sanjay Dutt's Policegiri and Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel.

No specific reasons were cited for the decision. A press release issued by the Central Film Censor Board only said the ban was imposed as the films violated the Motion Pictures Ordinance of 1979.

Both movies were released in cinema halls in major Pakistani cities several weeks ago. They are still being screened in some cities like Karachi and Lahore.



Too Taboo...

Pakistan film censors ban Raanjhanaa for its theme of mixed religion romance

Link Here4th July 2013
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion

The Pakistan Film Censor Board has banned the exhibition of the film Raanjhanaa because of its supposedly controversial theme .

Amjad Rasheed, the importer of Raanjhanaa , told The Express Tribune that he received a letter from CBFC with directives to shelve the film's release. The letter from CBFC states that the film portrays an inapt image of a Muslim girl falling in love with a Hindu man and having an affair with him.

The Bollywood film's plot portrays Muslim girl Zoya falling in love with Kundan and later Jasjeet Singh. Kundan falls for Zoya at first sight. He follows her to school. After getting slapped 16 times by Zoya, she agrees to meet him behind a temple, but the meeting does not turn out well as Zoya finds out that he's Hindu. As the story unfolds, Zoya also develops feelings for Kundan, however, her parents find out about it and send her off to Delhi in order to protect the family's honour. Later in Delhi, Zoya falls in love with Jasjeet Singh, a student leader.


28th January


Pakistan bans British made film set in Islamabad for swearing and drinking

Slackistan is a 2010 UK drama by hammad khan...
Starring Aisha Linnea Akthar, Rafey Alam and Osman Khalid Butt IMDb

Islamabad, Pakistan. A group of privileged and westernised twenty-something friends while away their days and nights driving around town, partying, surfing the internet and smoking shisha pipes. As the country outside their world starts to crack, Hasan and his friends must face up to their relationships, angst and life choices before it is too late.

Slackistan , a British-made movie about young people living in Islamabad, has been banned in Pakistan because of scenes showing swearing and drinking.

The Guardian notes the contentious issues as: the words 'Taliban' and 'lesbian', swear words in English and Urdu, scenes showing characters drinking (filmed with fake alcohol, incidentally) and a joke about beards (as in "my beard is longer than your beard") made between characters talking hypothetically about a fancy dress party. These are not the CBFC's only objections, but the main ones it highlighted.

Its director, London-based Hammad Khan, has told the BBC he is refusing to make changes demanded by Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC).

The CBFC also called for religious references to be taken out.

The low-budget film follows the young Pakistanis as they spend their time dating, drinking and going to parties despite attacks on their city by militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.


19th March

Updated: Negative Pakistan...

Pakistan censors ban Bollywood film Lahore

Bollywood films are a huge craze across the border in Pakistan. But the newly released Lahore , by director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan, has been banned. Ironically the film itself talks of a peace initiative between India and Pakistan and some portions have been shot in Lahore in 2009.

Based on kickboxing, the critically acclaimed film which has been shown at several international festivals has been denied a release because authorities in Pakistan reportedly don't approve of the title. In addition, they feel Indian films show Pakistan in a negative way.

Sanjay was told that Pakistan censor board objected to certain scenes: especially one where a Pakistani girl asks for forgiveness from an Indian character. Also the title Lahore didn't go down well with the board.

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