Joyland does not show extramarital affair between woman and her husband’s brother

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Claim: Joyland depicts a sexual relationship between a woman and her husband’s brother, which results in the character getting pregnant

Fact: The film does not show such a relationship, nor does it leave room for an interpretation that would lead viewers to this conclusion

Spoilers Ahead

Director Saim Sadiq’s film Joyland was released last week in Sindh and Islamabad. The film made headlines when it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival to a 10-minute standing ovation. Joyland won the Jury Prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard category and subsequently went on to win awards at multiple film festivals around the world. The film is Pakistan’s official entry to the annual Academy Awards.

Joyland was cleared for release by all provincial and censor boards in the country and was set to be released on 18 November. However, eight days before the release, a notification issued by the Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting withdrew the film’s censor certificate. The decision came after Joyland received criticism on social media for portraying a romantic relationship between a man and a trans woman. 

On 16 November, a special committee formed by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif met to review the movie, after which Joyland was cleared for release across Pakistan. However, one day later, Punjab’s government prohibited the film in the province. On 18 November, Joyland was released in Karachi as scheduled and has since been released in Islamabad as well.

Apart from the relationship between a trans woman and a man, Joyland is being criticised on social media for other aspects of its story. Some of this critique is based on interpretations that Sadiq did not personally intend for the audience to make. However, as films are open subjective experiences,  Soch Fact Check chose not to fact check critique that is reasonably based on viewers’ personal interpretation. 

One of the reasons Joyland is receiving criticism is because some claim it depicts a sexual relationship between one of the female character’s and her husband’s brother. Soch Fact Check found this to be false, since there is no room for an interpretation like this in the film.

Fact vs Fiction

Posts on social media claim that Joyland shows the female character of Mumtaz having sexual relations with her brother-in-law. According to these posts, this leads to Mumtaz getting pregnant. Having seen the film, Team Soch felt there was no implication of any such a relationship between Mumtaz and her brother-in-law. 

Being cognizant that this conclusion may be the result of audience members’ personal interpretations of Joyland, Soch Fact Check spoke to Sadiq. When asked whether Mumtaz is having an affair with her brother-in-law, the filmmaker responded with a definite, “no”. It’s to be noted that, while he did not intend for certain other interpretations of the film, he conceded that audience members could have their own readings. However, with this particular claim, Sadiq is clear that it is not implied in Joyland

Virality

Soch Fact Check identified twelve tweets carrying this claim. One such tweet has been liked by nearly 3000 profiles and has been retweeted over 800 times. On Facebook, we found three such posts with over 800 interactions.

Conclusion: Social media users have criticised Joyland for depicting an extramarital affair between a woman and her husband’s brother. Soch Fact Check found this to be false. Having watched the film, Team Soch found no room for such an interpretation. The film’s director has also clarified that this is not implied in the film.

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