So, an Indian film called Tere Bin Laden (Without You Laden) is making waves in India for being the first terrorist-inspired comedy, and in Pakistan for being (*sigh*) banned. The more things change...
According to newspaper reports, "the movie is is about a Pakistani journalist desperate to get a visa to the US who pretends to score an interview with the elusive al-Qaeda chief after finding a look-alike."
Sound innocuous enough, no?
Faiza Khan, a journalist based in Karachi, has an interesting article about the government's response in The Times of India. It's well worth a read as she touches on a number of important points. An extract:
"The censor board, to be fair, is known to be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, merrily releasing graphically violent local films whose vulgar depictions of sexuality would shame the Marquis of Sade, while banning 'The Da Vinci Code' (due to Pakistan's profound respect for its Christian minority, often expressed by denuding them of all their rights and massacring them in their homes). As such, TBL's falling foul of Pakistan's censors is imminently un-newsworthy in itself; it is the unprecedented reasoning for the ban, however, which sets alarm bells ringing.
"TBL isn't being banned for the usual reasons — that it's injurious to the national image or because it might encourage young people to have sex or an independent thought, nor because it's an Indian film and the rallying cry of the post-Partition subcontinent has long been 'loathe thy neighbour'; it's being banned for fear of reprisal from those whose sentiments will be wounded by a frivolous film referencing bin Laden. 'Tere Bin Laden' will be kept off Pakistani screens for fear of encouraging attacks on cinemas and inviting more bombs and bloodshed. While this is a very real thr-eat, throwing up your hands in anticipation of defeat is not a fitting response. Immaculate security at cinemas that goes beyond a frail old man with a gun sitting next to a decrepit metal detector would be a suitable response. Having a Pakistani red carpet launch, a fitting honour for one of the country's most popular young singers, would be a suitable response. Having the gumption to poke fun at bin Laden and at the world's perceptions of Pakistan would be a suitable response.
"The nanny state has yet again proved itself as the type of nanny that shakes your baby when you're not looking. The driving logic appears to be that kowtowing to the demands of terrorists, in this case anticipating them even before they've been aired, will somehow discourage them. What then might we do if these terrorists start objecting to women in the workplace, or on the street, to the existence of religious minorities, or the government, the army and the institution of democracy? Oh, wait. The ardent hope is that if one stays under the radar, and changes the way one lives in order to not ruffle their feathers, perhaps they will leave us be. On the plus side, perhaps this will render the Taliban redundant; after all, who needs them when the government is willing to do their job for them?"
Here's the link to the whole article:
And another article in Pakistan daily newspaper Dawn: