The highly anticipated release of the “Barbie” film has hit a roadblock in Punjab, Pakistan, as authorities cited “objectionable content” as the reason for the delay. The film, featuring Margot Robbie as the iconic doll and Ryan Gosling as her beloved boyfriend Ken, was set to premiere on Friday but has been put on hold pending a thorough review by the Punjab Film Censor Board.
In Pakistan, films are subject to scrutiny by provincial censor boards to ensure compliance with the nation’s social and cultural values. Farrukh Mahmood, the secretary of the Punjab Film Censor Board, affirmed that a comprehensive evaluation of the fantasy-comedy movie would take place, and any content deemed inappropriate or offensive would be duly censored.
The specific elements deemed “objectionable” were not clarified by the board, leaving audiences curious about the exact concerns raised during the evaluation process. While the film’s release has been delayed in Punjab, audiences in Islamabad and the province of Sindh will be able to enjoy “Barbie” as it has been approved by their respective censor boards.
This incident is not the first time Pakistani authorities have taken such measures. In November of the previous year, the film “Joyland” faced a government ban due to its perceived deviation from the country’s moral and decency standards. The movie, which received accolades at Cannes and was Pakistan’s entry for the 2023 Oscars, depicted a married Pakistani man’s relationship with a transgender woman. While “Joyland” was eventually cleared by the national censorship board following a government-ordered review, it remained banned in Punjab.
Similarly, in 2019, the film “Zindagi Tamasha” suffered a ban after the director faced accusations of blasphemy from a far-right religious party. The movie portrayed a religious man who composes hymns but is caught dancing at a family event.
As the review and censoring process for “Barbie” continues in Punjab, fans in the province will have to wait patiently for the film’s screening. However, the situation has sparked debates among cinephiles like Nousheen Saad from Lahore, who expressed confusion as to why the film can be shown in other cities but not in Punjab.
The delay of “Barbie” reflects the ongoing tension between artistic expression and cultural sensitivities in Pakistan’s film industry, and it remains to be seen how the film will be received once the review process is concluded.