Sarmad Khoosat was having an early morning cigarette in Busan, South Korea, when he got the text. The Pakistani director and actor was in town for the world premiere of his second film, Zindagi Tamasha (Circus of Life). The country’s strict smoking laws meant he needed to find a discreet corner to light up. Then came a WhatsApp message from the Central Board of Film Censors back home.
Unlike most countries, Pakistan has not one but three film censor boards, all independent bodies who certify films according to their regional jurisdiction. Although the country’s film industry dates back to the 50s, Pakistan is best known locally and internationally for its television productions. Television dramas and serials are