Fate of Mahira Khan’s upcoming film Verna remains unclear

Karachi: Confusion continues over the release of much-awaited Mahira Khan starrer ‘Verna’ which deals with the issue of rape after the Pakistan government today denied that the Censor Board had banned the film. The film, which is due to release this Friday, has run into trouble after it was first reported that the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) had banned its release following its viewing.

“The film has not been banned. But there is a process that every film has to go through before it is cleared by the CBFC,” Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb told media in Islamabad. The members of the censor board are private members and it was their decision, she said, adding that if they found something objectionable in the film they could ask the producer and director to delete those parts.

A top official of the CBFC said the board members had watched the film. A member of the Punjab Censor Board said that they had found several objectionable scenes in the film. “Firstly, it shows a governor’s son involved in a rape case – which was the biggest objection. Secondly, it includes many bold dialogues and scenes. The general plot of the movie revolves around rape, which we consider to be unacceptable,” the member said. Aurangzeb said the government had allowed films dealing with politicians and showing them in a negative light to be screened in Pakistan.

Provincial Censor Boards operate independently in Pakistan’s Sindh, Punjab and other provinces and have not issued any certificate for the screening of the film so far. There has been outrage on the social media over the move to ban the film. Film and television personalities have come out in support of the film and its acclaimed director Shoaib Mansoor who is better known for his hard-hitting films like ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ and ‘Bol’. Pakistan Nari Tehreek, a network of over one hundred grass roots women organisations, has also sent a petition to the CBFC and information ministry protesting the ban. “The film focuses on the issue of rape, which is so rampant in our society. The incident in D I Khan of stripping a woman naked and frequent incidents of rape are alarming, and it is appalling to see such decisions being made regarding a film which addresses the ill of our society and the gaps in the system,” read the petition.

Due to the prevailing confusion, the premiere of the film has been cancelled in Lahore. The film’s star cast, mainly actors Mahira Khan and Haroon Shahid, have been promoting it across Pakistan.

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Free Press Journal