Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer was meant to be one of the most eagerly awaited movies to be released across theaters in Pakistan last week. However, this was cut short when the Punjab Government and the Central Bureau of Film Censors (CBFC) issued an order to halt the film’s release with immediate effect despite initial censor board approval.
The film is based on the investigation into Javed Iqbal, a serial murderer who sexually abused and murdered 100 children in Lahore and sent in evidence of his crimes to the authorities and media in 1999. He was arrested and was sentenced to death. But just two years into his sentence, he committed suicide in his prison cell, but not before revealing that his motivation for murdering young boys was to make their mothers grieve for them, just like his mother was forced to do.
Following the Pakistan government ‘s notice, the film’s lead actor Yasir Hussain turned to Instagram to express his disappointment. In his post, Hussain questioned if independent filmmakers would ever get a chance in the country.
Ayesha Omar, who plays a police officer, running the investigation on the serial killer, also took to Instagram and reacted to the government’s decision. “This is so sad. The film had been passed by all censor boards including Punjab and only then was the release date announced. But right after the Karachi premiere, 2 days before the release of the film, the Punjab Government decided to halt the release and review it again,” she wrote.
“Films like this, based on true events and real-life horror stories, which expose the psychology of psychopath serial killers like Javed Iqbal, talk about issues like child kidnapping, abuse and murder, shed light on the dark side of society and our social construct, are very, very important,” she continued adding that films like this need to be made and they need to be seen.
Other actors also expressed their disappointment against the decision.
“Why can’t we just accept the fact that this really happened in the 90’s. Is Pakistani entertainment only limited to comedy and romance?” asked Iqra Aziz. “I think PEMRA hasn’t heard Ted Bundy’s tapes yet,” she further added, referring to the notorious American serial killer who has become the subject of numerous docu-films and series over the years.
Ali Rehman Khan said, “With a film industry trying to stay buoyant, how on earth can we move forward when every other film gets banned for no real apparent reason. Time to think beyond our personal prejudices and insecurities, and allow for real stories to be told.”
Actor Osman Khalid Butt had earlier tweeted: “Release the Javed Iqbal film! Halting it ‘in the wake of persistent complaints received from different quarters’ after it was cleared for release by all censor boards is incredibly vague and a terrible look for the future of Pakistani cinema.”
Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer is written and directed by Abu Aleeha and is produced under the banner of KK Films by Javed Ahmed. The cast also includes Paras Masroor, Rabiya Kulsoom and Aamir Yamin.