Ban on “Maalik” & Freedom of Expression

By Bushra Hassan.

Since the release of Maalik, very few ran towards the cinema theatres to watch the movie. Many did not know about the plot, actors and to be honest about this movie. Others went only with the Patriotic spirit only to support a Pakistani movie as a trend we see now. No hype was created as we witnessed for Ho Man Jahan, Bin Roye, Waar and few others. Before going to watch a movie, I always check online for the availability of seats and I did that for Ho Man Jahan as well but I got the tickets of the next day as everyone came to watch a good movie in groups or with families. On the other hand a few came to watch Maalik, house was full though but the hype was missing.

The movie is about a SSG Officer who starts his own private security agency, different from others, as its main purpose is to serve people of Pakistan and to make them “Maalik” of their own country. An Afghan Family that escapes the Soviet War in Afghanistan and settles down in Karachi along with a school teacher who becomes a victim of cruelty done by the feudal lord who later becomes Chief Minister of Sindh. The feudal lord, for his own personal goals and interests, terrorise all those who come in his path. The catchy dialogues like “Mein Mohammad Mohsin Pakistan ka shehri hun, Pakistan ka maalik hun. yeh zameen, yeh log meray hain.” was the dialogue that viewers carried home.

Pakistan has seen a history of banning the movies. Many movies are either censored or get banned in Pakistani Cinemas, which, in a way, is correct. They either contain unethical material which is against the norms of Pakistani society or they are Bollywood movies containing the content against our beloved country Pakistan which is obviously unacceptable. Such movies face a common future, BAN. But Maalik did not contain any such content. I will not get into the technical details but the nicely executed movie, did not contain any item song or unethical scenes and still becomes a part of “Banned movies” list. The current scenarios which Pakistan is facing regarding to corruption, is the plot of this movie. The political culture that has been reflected in the movie has probably become the reason for its ban. Maalik was released on 8th April and was banned after 18 days on 26th April by Sindh Government first and then got banned across the country on the very next day by Federal Government. But provisional government of KPK has allowed the movie’s screening in all the cinemas across the province.

The movie is all about corruption and in reality people do want to know that how our elected leaders misuse our tax money and transfer it into their foreign accounts through money laundering. Banning the movie clearly reflects that government has related the content of the movie to itself. What the actual reality is, yet it is another debate, but in the movie, not a single government official or any of government’s institution has been targeted. Two censor boards approved and allowed the screening of Maalik before its release, without any objection. The question arises that why did not they have any objection then?

Federal government has sent notice of banning the movie without mentioning the reason which is against the law. Director and Producer of Maalik, Asher Azeem, has also decided to challenge the ban on the movie in Sindh High Court, whereas Lahore High Court has also accepted the plea against the ban on Maalik. Point of discussion is that where is the Freedom of Expression? Is Pakistan really a democratic state? The ban on Maalik, first by Sindh Government and then by Federal Government, ultimately reflects the opposite. In every aspect, we compare ourselves with our neighbour and rival country India, be it cricket or advertisement. But when it comes to the big screen cinema, we witness that they have produced many movies on the topic of Politics that highlights their corrupt government and never get banned. Rajneeti, Ganga Jal, Gabbar is Back and movies like Khakee, portraying corruption in one form or another, which is the favourite topic of Indians, have done a great job at Box Office and never got banned by any censor board.

People in reality wants a corruption-free society as it is their money, paid in the form of taxes, that people want their government to utilize for the betterment of its citizens. Media keeps on portraying the corruption done by our government, being as the hot topics nowadays, be it Panama Papers Scandal, Money Laundering Cases, etc. Many talk shows and debates are carried out but the attention gets diverted and the issue fades away because of another newly introduced topic. People of Pakistan, being frustrated and demanding the system to change, can be a reason that a common person finds the movie Maalik close to reality. People want corruption-free society and are waiting for a “miracle” to happen. We criticise people of other countries in different manners referring them as “Goray” but what we need to adopt is their positive attributes. Sweden, for instance, has zero-percent corruption when it comes to elections. They don’t even have to go to polling booths and wait in the lines for their turn as they have the facility to courier their vote. But in Pakistan, elections are never “corruption-free” as it is also shown in this movie as well.

Maalik shows the corruption of government and how it uses its power to obtain their interests no matter how many humans they crush physically, mentally, economically or socially. The hype which was probably missing of this movie, is well created now. There are mixed views about the ban of this movie. Human nature includes doing what they are forbidden or stopped to do. Same is the case now with Maalik. People are now tweeting their views saying “the ban on Maalik makes me want to watch it more” or “I will buy Maalik DVD in even 1000 rupees”.

This is a democratic state and everyone has a freedom to express themselves. The ban on Maalik has stamped a negative mark on the government of Pakistan. Movies are supposed to depict the reality of any country and should not only be limited to love stories or fiction. Banning of Maalik is snatching away the rights of freedom of expression of the writer and the viewers to watch a reality depicted movie.

The writer is a Research Analyst and holds a strong command over Entertainment Industry. She can be reached at;

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *