The Central Board of Film Censors in Pakistan, in all its wisdom, has banned R. Balki’s Pad Man from release in the country. The film hasn’t been viewed by some of the members, as they accuse it of “ruining Islamic traditions, history and culture,” and that too without seeing the film.
Balki, who is currently in scenic Maheshwari, the city in Madhya Pradesh, where Pad Man was shot, says it is a shame that a film is being seen in a negative light, since it endeavours to eradicate the stigma towards menstrual hygiene.
“I am disturbed by this prejudiced pre-judgement. I believe the Pakistan censor board didn’t even bother to see the film. They refused to have anything to do with it, arguing that such films threaten Islamic culture and history. Pray tell, how does a film about the health concerns of women harm any culture in the world? It is truly saddening that we still look at a normal, monthly physiological occurrence as something not to be spoken about.”
Interestingly Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, that released two weeks earlier and portrayed the Islamic invader Alalluddin Khilji as a brutal and barbaric villain, was approved of by the Pakistan board. But their “liberal” decision has been frowned upon by the politicians and moralists of Pakistan.
A source from Pakistan says Pad Man was being served up an example of the country’s censorial austerity. “By being liberal over Padmaavat, the Pakistan censor board has incensed a powerful lobby in Pakistan’s politics, which is now threatening a ban on all Indian films in Pakistan. Pad Man is suffering a collateral
Balki believes that the decision to not release Pad Man has nothing to do with politics. He concludes, “I urge the Pakistani censor board to view the film. They will realise how deeply empathetic it is to the culture of the Asian subcontinent where women die due to a lack of menstrual hygiene.”