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Pakistan’s film censor board is on its ban streak yet again it has prohibited the release of three films in less than three months in 2022. The most recent to fall victim to it is Pakistani-American filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal’s movie I’ll Meet You There. The film was banned a week ahead of its scheduled theatrical release in the country.

Iram took to Instagram and shared that the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) has banned the film as it “portrays negative image of Muslims”. She shared a screenshot of the statement issued by the Muslim Public Affairs Council of the US’s director of the Hollywood Bureau, which is in favor of the film.

“The irony of this counter. This is the Muslim Public Affairs Council of the US’s director of the Hollywood Bureau, with international Muslim scholars in its network, issuing a statement in response to I’ll Meet You There being called a “negative portrayal of Muslims”.”


Written and directed by Iram Parveen Bilal, I’ll Meet You There is a portrait of three generations of a Muslim-American family. The film follows Majeed, a Chicago policeman, and his teenage daughter Dua, a gifted ballerina, who are unexpectedly visited by Baba, Majeed’s long-estranged father from Pakistan. Majeed is given a career-making opportunity that he can’t turn down, but it requires him to use his father’s help to gain access to the local mosque, while Dua, under Baba’s guidance, begins to question her passion for dance.

The film was selected for SXSW’s narrative feature competition in 2020 before the spread of the coronavirus pandemic forced the festival’s cancelation. The cast includes Faran Tahir, Nikita Tewani, Muhammad Qavi Khan, Sheetal Sheth amongst many others.

In a statement to Variety, Iram Parveen Bilal said: “a film that was made with blood, sweat and tears by a Muslim, financed by Muslims and made in the face of a post 9/11 world and a Trump presidency; a film whose very purpose was to combat Islamophobia and to create a positive portrayal of Muslims. A film already released abroad and celebrated widely by the Muslim Pakistani diaspora and seen as a needed and humanized representation of our people. How could that intention be reframed so oppositely and so negatively?”

Faran Tahir told Variety that “it is disheartening, disappointing and shameful that issues that Pakistani ex-pats face in their lives are trivialized and labeled as ‘not reflecting true Pakistani culture.’ We, Pakistanis, represent our country with love and pride every day while living in foreign lands. We do this to support our families and loved ones. We do this to support our country financially and in every other way. We do this with nothing but love for our country and yet to be cast aside by our very own is deeply hurtful.”

Iram also shared her full statement on the matter on her Instagram.


The film’s executive producer Abid Aziz Merchant took to social media to share his thoughts on the ban.



“Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan on June 26, 2021 said the world values original content and not imitation, as he criticised the films produced in Pakistan, which “copy” Bollywood. “Bring original ideas and don’t be afraid of failure”, “The world values original ideas”. (source: The News International website).”

“Yes, “The world values original ideas” and that’s why I’ll Meet You There was the Grand Jury Award Nominee at the prestigious SXSW 2020 and thereafter was in competition at a number of renowned film festivals including Bentonville Film Festival and Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.”

However, Pakistan is not open to accept or value his “original ideas” and hence:

“I share with utter disappointment with all of you that I’ll Meet You There – Bismil which was scheduled to release across Pakistan tomorrow 11th March, 2022 has been banned by the Central Board of Film Censors, Islamabad and we’ve been informed that they are pleased to refuse to grant censorship certificate in favour of the said film,” he wrote.

Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer

Javed Iqbal

Earlier in January 2022, Ayesha Omar and Yasir Hussain-starrer Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer was also banned right after its premiere in Karachi. Following several months of postponement, the film has had its release in Punjab halted by the Punjab government despite having clearance from all censor boards, according to the director Abu Aleeha.



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The film is based on the investigations held in the case of a serial killer who killed 100 young boys in Lahore and sent evidence of his crimes to the authorities and media in 1999. Javed Iqbal was originally supposed to be released in October, but the date was pushed to December 24 because a pending clearance by the censor boards. The film’s release was delayed again due to a rise in Covid-19 cases. The release date was rescheduled to January 28.

Read: Zindagi Tamasha Gets A Release Date

Zindagi Tamasha

Zindagi TamashaSarmad Khoosat’s directorial Zindagi Tamasha has a tumultuous journey of its own. It was originally scheduled to be released in 2020. The film never saw the light of day as it got embroiled in all sorts of disputes due to its content, which was preconceived to be controversial. After becoming Pakistan’s official submission for Oscars for the 93rd Academy Awards and receiving international recognition by winning several accolades, the film was approved for release in Pakistan on March 18th, 2022.

However, Sarmad Khoosat has confirmed that the release of the film has been postponed yet again. While an official press statement will release soon, media reports are suggesting that the film will “come out soon”.



Written by Nirmal Bano and directed by Sarmad Khoosat, Zindagi Tamasha features Arif Hassan, Samiya Mumtaz, Eman Suleman and Ali Kureshi in the lead. The film is centred around a naat khwan Rahat Khawaja (played by Arif Hassan) and his family who are outcast from the society when a secret from Khawaja’s personal life is leaked.

In 2020, the Central Board of Film Censors postponed the release of the film due to several objections and countrywide protests against its screening. Later, Covid-19 pandemic made matters worse for cinemas across Pakistan. However, we saw a glimmer of hope in July when the Senate Committee on Human Rights approved Zindagi Tamasha for screening. The film has won the Kim Ji-Seok Award at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, the Snow Leopard Award for Best Film and also won two accolades at the 6th Annual Asian World Film Festival.



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