Pakistan: “Censorship boards and artists have always been arch rivals”

“Censorship boards and artists have always been arch rivals. What an artist considers necessary for the audience is often considered unnecessary by the censor board of the time.


Article by Rafay Mahmood, published in The Express Tribune on 17 March 2014. Photo by Ayesha Mir.

“Pakistani stage and cinema have witnessed their fair share of iron-fisted control, both during Ziaul Haq’s regime, and after.

A few years ago, the film censorship section of the Sindh Secretariat requested the word badbakht to be changed in a Napa play as they found it obscene. Perhaps assuming that he would actually drink alcohol on stage, they even asked for the removal of the character of a drunkard from the play.

Yes, this does sound idiosyncratic, but what happened afterwards, both in cinema and stage, was incredible and progressive. The Paresh Rawal film ‘OMG Oh My God!’ about an agnostic who files a case against God, was allowed to be screened in Pakistani cinemas in 2012.

This brings us to the staging of the recent Napa production ‘Kuttay’…”

The Express Tribune reports from Napa Theatre Festival 2014 in Pakistan: ‘Going to the dogs’
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