“When they can’t bear the truth, they destroy it.”
Over the years, Pakistan has continued to ban movies that actually matter. It’s almost as if Pakistan is trying its very best to constantly keep the truth hidden. To not let anyone speak against what they think should be spoken. No politician or person in power ever talks about violence against women. The media doesn’t cover it either. When the entertainment industry finally decides to bring light to the issue by creating a movie about it, the movie gets banned?
“Verna” is a Pakistani film set to release in November – or at least, was. It’s a movie about a school teacher, played by Mahira Khan, who gets raped and decides to take action. It’s a Shoaib Mansoor movie, and he has previously created movies “Khuda Ke Liye” (In the Name of God) and “Bol” (Speak), that tackle issues such as sexism, religion, and power. The censor board has chosen to ban the movie because it “explicitly” shows violence against women. What were they expecting? A woman and a man dancing in a ballroom? A movie that is about violence against women will understandably show violence against women. That’s the entire point. Violence against women is a serious issue. If it can include blood and tears in real life, a movie about it should have blood and tears, too.
Previously, another Pakistani movie called “Maalik” (Owner) was banned in Pakistan, because it showed the truth about politicians in Pakistan. The movie was the story of a man who was hired as a bodyguard for a politician in Pakistan, and saw the life of that politician firsthand. The movie boldly portrayed the ugly truth: how corrupted Pakistan really is. It portrayed how politicians in Pakistan used their power in a negative way, and how they would do anything it takes to keep that power. They’d kill, lie, rape, etc. It was banned for a year before it was supposedly put on the internet.
The censor board fails to understand the impact of movies on the youth. Most people don’t read the news or keep up with current events, but they do watch movies; that’s exactly why it’s so important for movies to tackle issues like rape. One movie about violence against women will raise more awareness in the youth than a hundred articles or a thousand documentaries ever will. Nobody sits down on a free day and thinks “Oh, I have some free time, how about I read an article online!” A hundred people might read this article, but millions will watch that movie. That’s the power of the entertainment industry right there. When people in that industry choose to use their power in a positive way to bring light to problems that are not discussed, they should be allowed to, if not encouraged.
When the censor board bans a movie that raises awareness on violence against women, the censor board is banning women’s rights and promoting violence, which is wrong altogether. If you’re not speaking up yourself, don’t hold others back from doing so. It’s time to let people share their stories and their truths, no matter how “vulnerable” or “taboo” the subject is or how “explicit” their way of showing you is.