The most controversial Pakistani film of 2020 was undoubtedly Sarmad Khoosat’s directorial Zindagi Tamasha. The film, that was scheduled to be released on January 24th 2020, never saw the light of day as it got embroiled in all sorts of disputes due to its content, which was preconceived to be controversial. In a surprising turn of events, fate had something else in store for the film as now Zindagi Tamasha is Pakistan’s official submission for Oscar consideration in the International Feature Film Award category for the 93rd Academy Awards.
Unfortunately, the fate of the film in Pakistan is still in doldrums, but at least there is a silver lining that its international recognition may open some doors. The film has already won at the Busan International Film Festival.
The Oscar committee for 2020 is chaired by filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and includes Faisal Kapadia, Asad-ul-Haq, Maheen Zia, Asim Abbasi, Hamza Bangash, Bee Gul, Syed Mohammed Ahmed, Mehwish Hayat and Hassan Sheheryar Yasin.
Written by Nirmal Bano and directed by Sarmad Khoosat, Zindagi Tamasha features Arif Hassan, Samiya Mumtaz, Eman Suleman and Ali Kureshi in the lead. The film is centred around a naat khwan Rahat Khawaja (played by Arif Hassan) and his family who are outcast from the society when a secret from Khawaja’s personal life is leaked.
Soon after the announcement of the official entry, many stars from the fraternity took to social media to appreciate the decision and congratulate the director.
Meesha Shafi took to Instagram and shared: “Divine justice Mubarak ho, Sarmad. I have a feeling you are going to win. However, you are already a winner in my eyes.”
Mehwish Hayat also expressed that she is proud to be a part of the Oscar selection committee that chose Zindagi Tamasha as the Oscar submission from Pakistan.
Earlier this year, the Central Board of Film Censors postponed the release of the film due to several objections and countrywide protests against its screening. Former Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan tweeted that the censor board has been asked to approach the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to deliberate over the matter. Later, Covid-19 pandemic made matters worse for cinemas across Pakistan. However, we saw a glimmer of hope in July when the Senate Committee on Human Rights approved Zindagi Tamasha for screening. Now we are eagerly waiting for the coronavirus scare to pass so that we get to see the film on big screen. Fingers crossed!