Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer was one of the most anticipated films in Pakistan last week. Despite initial censor board permission, the Punjab Government and the Central Bureau of Film Censors (CBFC) ordered the film’s immediate halt.
In 1999, Javed Iqbal, a serial killer who sexually abused and murdered 100 children in Lahore, transmitted evidence of his crimes to the authorities and media. He was arrested and executed. His mother was forced to grieve for him while he was only two years into his sentence.
In response to the Pakistani government’s notification, actor Yasir Hussain took to Instagram. indie filmmakers will ever get a shot in the country, Hussain wrote.
Ayesha Omar, who plays a detective investigating the serial killer, also commented on Instagram. “How sad. After all censor boards, including Punjab, approved the film, the release date was announced. But two days before the film’s release, the Punjab government decided to suspend the release and evaluate it,” she said.
She added that films like these need to be made and viewed because they show the psyche of psychopath serial killers like Javed Iqbal, discuss issues like child kidnapping, abuse, and murder, and illuminate the dark side of society and our social construct.
Other actors voiced their displeasure with the choice.
What if we just accept that this happened in the 1990s? ”I assume PEMRA hasn’t heard Ted Bundy’s tapes yet,” Iqra Aziz said, referring to the notorious American serial killer who has been the focus of multiple docu-films and TV programmes.
“How can we move forward when every other film is prohibited for no apparent reason?” Ali Rehman Khan asked. So let’s think past our own preconceptions and fears to hear true stories.”
“Release the Javed Iqbal film!” tweeted actor Osman Khalid Butt. Stopping it ‘following persistent complaints from various quarters’ after it had been cleared for screening by all censor boards is terribly unclear and bad for Pakistani cinema’s future.”
‘Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story’ is written and directed by Abu Aleeha and produced by Javed Ahmed’s KK Films. Paras Masroor, Rabiya Kulsoom, and Aamir Yamin also star.