British filmmaker Hammad Khan has refused to comply with a demand by Pakistan’s state censor to cut out references to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in his debut feature ‘Slackistan’. The critically acclaimed film about a group of wealthy, westernized and bored youngsters in Islamabad, has been feted at a number of film festivals over the past 12 months. However, Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors have demanded that the filmmaker remove all dialogue references to ‘Islamic beards’ and ‘religious attire’, aside from allusions to the Al Qaeda supremo and the Afghan hardliners. According to local sources, the censors have also objected to the term ‘lesbian’ in one of the scenes and the shots of the characters consuming alcohol.
Speaking from London, Khan said “The censor board’s verdict is oppressive, arbitrary and steeped in denial about life outside their government offices. Maybe the establishment’s view is that young Pakistanis saying words like ‘Taliban’ and ‘Lesbian’ represent a more potent threat than the bullets and bombs that have become a daily part of life in our country. Apart from being an undemocratic restriction on the filmmaker’s right of expression, the verdict shows the disdain with which the authorities regard local film culture and liberal ideas, in the face of growing extremism and intolerance.”
The CBFC have also stated that, even if all cuts are made as demanded, the film would still receive a restrictive adults-only ‘18+’ rating.
Last year, Indian comedy Tere Bin Laden – about an Osama Bin Laden lookalike – was banned by the CBFC.
It objected to the way the movie portrayed Bin Laden and warned that it could trigger a “terrorist attack”.