If Barbie hadn’t already faced enough struggles in the real world, she had the Punjab government waiting at the next stop. After facing the knife for four objectionable words, Barbie was allowed to screen in Punjab on Saturday morning. However, by late night, cinemas once again started to refund tickets and cancel shows.
This sudden cancellation caused a furore on social media as fans couldn’t figure out exactly what Barbie distributors, HKC Films, and the Punjab Censor Board were up to. Sources inside the censor board have told The Express Tribune that the film was recalled despite receiving a NOC because of public complaints.
“Barbie has not been banned, the film has been recalled for another review,” a censor board insider told The Express Tribune. “This time it is the government of Punjab and not the censor board that has made this decision. The government has intervened and called for a second review of the film, the date of which hasn’t been finalised yet.” Upon asking what value the board holds if the government can intervene any time it wishes to, the insider refused to comment.
Some cinemas in Punjab, such as Cue Cinemas, had doubts over the prospects of Barbie’s release and did not play the film even in the short period of time it was allowed to play. “We had our doubts about how Barbie may be received, and that’s why we didn’t play it at all,” said Cue Cinema’s on-duty manager, Mohammad Mansoor.
It is pertinent to mention that after the passing of the 18th Amendment, censor boards now operate as provincial bodies with Sindh, Punjab, and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) working independently with their respective board members. Barbie was allowed to release uncut and uncensored with a PG rating by Sindh and Central Board for Film Certification.
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