Stellar filmmaker, Sarmad Khoosat, has been facing trouble trying to release his latest project, ‘Zindagi Tamasha,‘ which is a hard-hitting representation of society, exposing many evils that exist.
He first penned an open letter regarding the same.
میں بھی پاکستان ہوں
An open letter to:@ImranKhanPTI@ArifAlvi #Chiefjusticeofpakistan #Chiefofthearmystaffpakiatan#ministerofinformationpakistan@DanyalGilani #censorboardofpakistan #ZindagiTamasha #pakistanicinema pic.twitter.com/D10lS1V1gw
— Sarmad Khoosat (@KhoosatSarmad) January 16, 2020
However, the situation has since escalated, and he has been receiving threatening calls and messages. His personal details have also apparently been leaked.
In another open letter, he talks about the same, clarifying that the movie is not intended to hurt or offend – it is simply a story.
Here’s the heartfelt open letter:
Getting dozens of threatening phone calls and msgs. Should I withdraw Zindagi Tamasha? pic.twitter.com/OJB396B1xq
— Sarmad Khoosat (@KhoosatSarmad) January 19, 2020
The entire scenario is heartbreakingly Manto-esque, where Manto, too, was criticized for his portrayal of society’s evils. Yet, the stories were some of the most brilliant pieces of literature and art that we have in the subcontinent. The rawness in them and their closeness to reality made them what they are, for the stories were meant to double as eye-opening commentaries. Unfortunately, even in 2020, the situation seems strikingly similar.
However, ever since Sarmad Khoosat penned the second letter, people are rallying to support him and his cause. Mahira Khan was amongst those who spoke up.
Time and again we are made to realise our power and our influence. A film ( that people haven’t seen) can make some this scared.
Mushkil ko bata ke tera Allah kitna bara hai @KhoosatSarmad https://t.co/AGVeTl8Dfh
— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) January 19, 2020
Renowned author Mohammed Hanif also expressed solidarity.
#ZindagiTamasha has been cleared by the censors TWICE. Someone is still trying to mess with the release. Please read and share this heart felt plea. https://t.co/0kIsvyDVF5
— mohammedhanif (@mohammedhanif) January 16, 2020
Pakistanis weighed in about how they’re actually excited about this film.
So many of us are so excited about this film. Art is the only thing that allows us to breathe. Hope those in power realise that suffocating us will only be counterproductive for the country as a whole. Eventually hum phat jayenge. #zindagitamasha https://t.co/ci6dglNyAl
— Nida Kirmani (@nidkirm) January 19, 2020
Once again, we are reminded that if one’s faith can be endangered by a movie, then perhaps, a look inwards is of the utmost importance.
It's so strange that a movie can put the faith of our people in danger. Good luck @KhoosatSarmad in all this Tamasha. #ZindagiTamasha https://t.co/TcCThp4vdF
— Nabeel Gulzar (@iNabeel_Gulzar) January 20, 2020
People are rallying to support the movie.
Support #ZindagiTamasha. Support #FreedomOfExpression.
Pakistanis deserve to watch this movie. https://t.co/luocxwBZ39
— Muhammad Uzair Balagamwala (@muzairb) January 20, 2020
This is so sad!A responsible Citizen of Pakistan is threatened by few people who have a different opinion than him.Pathetic 😡
Sarmad please don't risk your life for a nation who is not ready to fight these"Hawai Faujdar".
Humhi nay inko khuda banakar rakha hai. #ZindagiTamasha https://t.co/HQMYlMSHoQ
— Sawera Pasha (@sawerapasha) January 20, 2020
@KhoosatSarmad #ZindagiTamasha pic.twitter.com/zhhTL8Ixmo
— Humeira Ajaz Kazmi (@humeirakazmi) January 20, 2020
I support the release of @KhoosatSarmad 's film #ZindagiTamasha because I believe in the freedom of artistic expression and refuse to give in to extremist forces.
Please support and share. https://t.co/58mcJwqsnk
— صائمہ شاہین (@saimashaheen1) January 20, 2020
In fact, it is a movement of sorts on Twitter.
Its not just a movie, it might be exposing some real issues of our society which are kept under the carpet!
Nothing like you said will happen @KhoosatSarmad bcz precedence has been set of locking the mongers into jail for 1400 years!! Don’t Worry and RELEASE IT!! #ZindagiTamasha pic.twitter.com/UDEgztLGLl
— Haseeb Ahmed Janjua (@HaZzY20) January 20, 2020
I support the release of @KhoosatSarmad's film #ZindagiTamasha because I believe in the freedom of artistic expression and refuse to give in to extremist forces.
Please support and share. https://t.co/Wgq5Boqj6Q pic.twitter.com/FuJquvSrq8
— Sadia ahmad (@SadiaTheSadia) January 19, 2020
Pakistan must allow the release of #ZindagiTamasha#SayNoToCensorship pic.twitter.com/p55CmbSFP4
— Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) January 19, 2020
Some people are even trying to find alternative ways to watch the movie.
i don't know how copyrights etc. work in this case but what's the possibility of netflix buying zindagi tamasha for streaming? i know it's probably not what sarmad wants bec he made it for the masses and netflix has a restricted audience, but still.
— Faizan. (@merabichrayaar) January 20, 2020
In times of trials and tribulations, our art is all we have. Yet, our art is almost always all that’s threatened. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen. However, with the support that this film’s receiving and will continue to receive, we can hope that it’s the last.
At the end of the day, it is a quote by Saadat Hasan Manto that comes to mind when thinking about this entire situation:
“If you cannot bear these stories, then it is the society that is unbearable.”