Momal Sheikh’s Happy Bhaag Jaayegi faces last-minute roadblock

Happy Bhaag Jaeygi was expected to release worldwide on August 19. PHOTO: FILE

Happy Bhaag Jaeygi was expected to release worldwide on August 19. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: After a smooth sail through promotions and pre-hype in Pakistan, the fate of Momal Sheikh’s Bollywood debut ‘Happy Bhaag Jaaygi’ now hangs in the balance. As of now, the film will not release in Pakistan on Friday (tomorrow) August 19, 2017.

While the film has not yet been slapped with an official ban, the ball is longer in the court of provincial censor boards. Last week, the film was submitted to all the respective censor boards for certification.

The Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) could not reach a unanimous decision over the fate of the film due to technical differences between the board members. To sort it out, as per the regular proceedings of the board, a full-board was called to review the film.

“The full board had approved the film for public viewing with a 8-1 ratio in favour of the film,” Chairman CBFC, Mobashir Hasan told The Express Tribune. However, as the film was all set to premier tonight and release tomorrow, the information ministry requested to review the certification notes of the film.

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“Under the Motion Pictures Ordinance of 1979 and Censorship of Film Rules act of 1980, the ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage has the right review the board’s decision,” explained the CBFC chairman.

The ministry issued a letter to the CBFC requesting the required details yesterday (Wednesday) and the CBFC submitted it to the ministry earlier today .“Now the ministry will decide the fate of the film and not CBFC. For now, it seems highly unlikely that the film will release tomorrow.”

Amjad Rasheed, the film’s distribution company, Distribution Club, previously known as IMGC Entertainment was equally puzzled about the fate of the movie. “You need to call the CBFC and ask them about the delay. Even I have no clue whether my film is releasing in Pakistan or not.”

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An official of the Punjab Board of Film Certification told The Express Tribune their panel had no issues with the film. “The panel had reviewed the film and found it suitable for public viewing in Pakistan but we can’t issue a certificate because apparently the federal government has a few objections on the film,” said an official requesting anonymity.  No one from the Sindh Board of Film Certification was available for comment on the matter.

CBFC is no longer the unanimous body that decides the fate of films in Pakistan, including the version which is released for public viewing. Since the 18th amendment was promulgated, all provinces are supposed to have film release’s certified on a provincial level.

This is why CBFC’s authority today is restricted only to the Islamabad Capital Territory and the cinemas that come under the cantonments. And the issues Happy Bhaag Jaaygi is facing, coupled with the recent ban of Maalik, a big question mark hangs on the practicality of the 18th amendment and the actual role of the CBFC in Pakistan

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