Barbie, the popular animated movie, has been caught up in a whirlwind of controversies in the real world, with the Punjab government becoming the latest obstacle on its journey to the big screen. The film faced scrutiny over four objectionable words, leading to its screening being allowed initially in Punjab but subsequently canceled, causing confusion and uproar among fans and cinephiles.
The film’s distributors, HKC Films, and the Punjab Censor Board found themselves embroiled in a surprising turn of events when cinemas began refunding tickets and canceling shows late at night. The sudden cancellation sparked a frenzy on social media, leaving fans perplexed about the reasons behind the decision and the intentions of the parties involved.
Sources within the censor board shed some light on the situation, stating that despite receiving a No Objection Certificate (NOC), Barbie was recalled due to public complaints. This move raised eyebrows, as it was not the censor board but the Punjab government itself that intervened and called for a second review of the film. However, the exact date for the second review remains uncertain at this point.
The censorship process and the government’s involvement have come under scrutiny, prompting questions about the autonomy of the censor board. One insider from the censor board revealed that the film has not been banned outright but instead has been temporarily withdrawn for another review. The decision to recall the film came directly from the government of Punjab, leaving the board’s authority in question.
The situation led to differing stances among cinemas in Punjab. Cue Cinemas, for instance, had reservations about the film’s prospects and chose not to screen it during the brief period when it was initially allowed. The on-duty manager at Cue Cinemas, Mohammad Mansoor, explained that their decision was driven by uncertainties surrounding how the movie might be received.
One crucial aspect to note is that after the passing of the 18th Amendment, censor boards now function as provincial bodies, with independent operations in Sindh, Punjab, and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), each having its own board members. Interestingly, Barbie received approval for an uncut and uncensored release with a PG rating from the Sindh and Central Board for Film Certification.
As the situation unfolds, stakeholders and the public await further updates on the fate of Barbie in Punjab. The uncertainty surrounding the film’s screening reflects the complexities of censorship and governmental interventions in the film industry. Fans and industry experts hope for a resolution that respects creative freedom while addressing any legitimate concerns raised by the public.