Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Khuda Ke Liye : In the Name of God

It takes guts of steel to make a film that is a true reflection of society, cause there is every possibility that the film will get construed as an arthouse cinema and will fail to get its true audience it deserves, its even harder when such film comes from Pakistan, a nation which has earned a reputation of being extremely volatile and highly explosive in recent times, a country which most of the world thinks is full of extremists and fundamentalists..so i thought,to be very honest, i was wrong..a country that can deliver a cinema so true and so hard hitting and still so human can not be so single dimensional. I have seen quite a few films which have walked a thin line between socially relevant and entertaining.. Do beegha Zameen, Naya Daur, Shor, Purab aur Pashchim, Main Azad Hoon,Akrosh, Ardha Satya, Swades, Parzania and Rang De Basanti..few successful and few not so successful..but even in these cases the audience were divided between commercial and art house flicks, the problem is being a nation thats is a "Secular Democratic Republic" the truth in the cinema is often underplayed and sugar quoted with diplomacy and thats why every time a cinema decides to unveil a mirror in front of us..its get embroiled in some sort of controversy (eg Hey Ram, Machis, Parzania).

"Khuda Ke Liye" is one such film which is every thing you expect a thought provoking film to be and even more, it offers a closure and a solution. I will be very honest when i say that i haven't seen a film made in this subcontinent which has been able to change me as a person or my point of view towards anything..until i saw Khuda Ke Liye, it shook me ( i am not a politics aficionado, and i am not opinionated towards any religion..just to put things straight) but i love my country and i dont like when certain manipulative forces tries to disrupt our harmony with sheer act of cowardliness..but then those are a handful of people who are mislead to fight a war without a cause for certain someone else who is too scared to fight his own battle..and i cant hate any country for what these few individual do..i can only feel sorry for there ignorance, and thats exactly how this film has changed me. Its a difficult subject, a director could have easily decided in favor of playing safe and ended up as a narcissist storyteller, fortunately Shohib Mansoor is not a person who believes in patronizing and diplomacy and therefore he makes a film which is so unbiased that it will put geometry to shame.

Its a story of two brothers Mansoor (Shaan) and Sarmad (Fawad Khan) and their love for music, how they gradually drift apart as one goes on America to study music while the other gives up music and becomes a recluse and later a fundamentalist, its also the story of Maryam (Imaan Ali) who is living a London dream until her hypocrite father who himself lives with a English lady and still has zero tolerance towards her daughter dating a white guy, gets her married to Sarmad and packs her off to Afghanistan, the life which is worse than a exile and a marriage that borderlines kidnapping. In the meanwhile Mansoor becomes a prime suspect and gets implicated as a person involved in 9/11 just because he is a Muslim and hails from Pakistan and therefore ends up facing rendition, overnight his life turns from a symphony to a cacophony. Sarmad on the other side of the world discovers that fundamentalism may not be what he expected as he lands up in a war with Taliban, interpretation of holy book of Quran becomes murky,vague and unclear until he realizes that what he had assumed to be truth was only the half truth, his redemption forms the crux of the story.

The acting here is top notch.. Shaan seems to be hamming is the beginning but then he grows on you and gives a lovely performance, few of the best lines and best moments of the film are a part of his track..Iman Ali is a actress i will look forward to, the vulnerability and angst she conveys is impaccible, Rasheed Naz as Maulana Tahiri-the films pseudo villain is a veteran and he proves his metal yet again, but the film truly belongs to Fawad Khan who probably portrays the most complex character of Sarmad who may be on the wrong side but you still empathize with him, its a performance which is effortless and yet a powerhouse..and all this in his first film. A guest appearance by Nasiruddin Shah is brief but plays a pivotal part in films arc.

The film is a statement from the director Shohib Mansoor, of his convictions and his passion that addresses not just the Art of film but also to the society around him, His work comes across as a solid labor of love, although there are few places where the transition looks incoherent , those are minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.The film is linear and yet it doesnt follow the three arc routine, its episodic in nature and it works cause there are more than one perspectives here to tackle.

If somebody says its a revival of Pakistani Cinema..i will call it a understatement, this film is the kind of film which should also be understood by Indian film makers, and taken up as an example towards "how to make sensible films", this film totally deserves a nomination for best foreign film category in the Academy Awards..and it has a fairly decent chance even to win it.. (irrespective of the total runtime). Kudos to Shohib Mansoor and his team for making such an important film at the right time.Do not miss it.

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