With a potential Oscar on the horizon, Joyland delivered Pakistan several achievements from Cannes to Cairo. The Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) provided the smoking gun, shattering all aspirations of the movie being aired in Pakistan.
But let’s be honest: Does censorship even matter anymore? Is being afraid of a trans-love movie reasonable? A covert attempt to conceal the fear of developing empathy for the transgender population, especially given that this group predates the founding of this nation, is the claim that the movie incites moral immorality and predilections.
The picture was scheduled to be presented on November 18, 2022, and an exhibition license for it was obtained in August 2022. However, in a less unexpected turn of events, the CBFC censored the movie on November 11. Joyland’s censorship certificate was made public on November 12 by a tweet from Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami. The certificate uses Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance of 1979 to support its claims that the picture did not adhere to social and moral norms. This justifies the certificate’s textual objections. Fans of Joyland and its cast/crew flocked to social media in an uproar over the unfairness and claimed unlawful action taken by CBFC.
The primary criticism of the movie claims that it glorifies immorality; they all make these claims without ever having seen the movie. Although the bulk of Pakistani movies would portray a transgender character as the punchline of the joke, this one is not the first to do so. Despite being extensively edited, I had the good fortune to witness the movie. In one moment, Biba (Alina Khan) overhears remarks about “what is in her trousers.”
One of the men is grabbed by her and held against the wall with her hand on his neck when she takes the joke seriously. The attitude from Biba is the same as that of other transgender individuals in Pakistan: they are not to be laughed at. The film does not in this instance treat the love story between Haider and Biba that is set up by Joyland’s directing as a comedy.
We are not unfamiliar with violence, rape, or societal criticism; the news does not conceal it, and WhatsApp conspiracy theory group conversations do not either. Why would selective censorship be justified, especially if doing so would be good for society and the nation’s reputation as a whole?
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act (2018) has recently come up for discussion again after certain religious organizations dubbed it a “promotion of homosexuality” and another instance of societal immorality. Simply put, the measure guarantees that persons who self-identify as transgender will have their rights safeguarded and be able to participate in Pakistani society as citizens.
Biba’s response to the jokes made about her demonstrates the gender-based sexism that has persisted from the beginning of time. This movie does advocate for transgender rights and increases societal understanding.
Being shunned by society, losing your inheritance and family’s support, being more likely to be murdered, and experiencing other negative consequences are not glorious. The movie does not promote immorality; rather, it depicts the unfairness and harsh treatment that marginalized people, including the transgender community, endure on a daily basis. Minority groups are a bottleneck in our society because we think it’s their decision to live in such conditions, but for them, it’s reality, not a choice.
Although this movie has received praise from famous foreign film organizations, it has had a considerably greater impact on Pakistan. Because of its recognition, its cast and crew get the opportunity to showcase what they have been working on for the past six years. It’s not just about the movie’s plot, says one cast member, Sarwat Gilani: “Pakistan is presently experiencing a time to take pride in its hard work.” the film industry’s blood, sweat, and tears.