‘Khuda Kay Liye’ – More Than Just a Film?

By Sonya Rehman

It is ironic. While ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ (a film which endeavours at highlighting an empathetic facet concerning Muslims post 9/11), gets ready to make its debut within the archaic walls of local cinemas, the walls of the ‘Red Mosque’ (‘Lal Masjid’) are being pierced with bullets. But hopefully by the time you read this, there would’ve been a conclusive end to the entire fiasco that’s been an ongoing mêlée for the past five days in the capital now.

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However, back to the paradox of the current circumstances; where Shoaib Mansoor’s debut film aims at rectifying ‘contemporary’ Islam’s image, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Abdur Rashid Ghazi have hoisted the banners of Jihad high – that too behind their protective red fortress – reinforcing the eyes of the West to stare at Pakistan with a gleam of ‘hah we knew it, bloudy fundamentalist militants’ in their eyes.

Added to the irrationality of the situation, Maulana Abdul Aziz’s extraordinary act of bravado will be remembered for years to come regarding his ‘meticulous’ getaway plans of sneaking out – enveloped in a burqa from head-to-toe, close at the heels of his wife! Thorough champ you are, sir.

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To label these times as strange, albeit insecure, would be understating a situation that has begun to spread its nightmarish black wings over the country’s horizon. And what is awaited upon now, is a sort of ‘settlement’ – the ironing out of creases that have seemed to lodge themselves deep within Pakistan’s sun-beaten, weary forehead.
“It truly is a war between the moderates and the fundamentalists”, many would acknowledge – just as Shoaib Mansoor has, in his official statement (up on the movie’s website). But it runs deeper. Far deeper. Because as the rivers of cultural schism run deep and strong, the liberals, fundos (and the in-betweens) play out their parts like pawns on a large chess board labeled; ‘global politics’.

Nudged and prodded to progress towards their opponents by means of hurling bombs, verbal grenades, heavy shells of threats, and the likes, there seems to be much at stake within the country – in addition to the ongoing bedlam of an up in arms judicial sector regarding the CJP’s riddance and later, replacement.

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But the vicious cycle is slowly chugging its way to a final stop. It’s in the air. You can almost smell it. When it will happen…who really knows, but ‘change’ (whether positive or negative) has begun to smell as seasoned and as ripe as a mango just waiting to be plucked.

For years, filmmakers have produced works revolving around a country’s politics, history and social make-up. Walk into any movie store or browse lists of films online – and you will see that the options/genres/categories are copious.
From movies such as ‘Roots’ (on black slavery), ‘The gangs of New York’ (the riots in 1863 between Irish immigrants and Native Americans), ‘Anna and the King’ (on Thailand during the American Civil War), ‘Gandhi’, ‘Dr. Zhivago’ (the Russian Revolution), ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Jinnah’ ‘Passion of the Christ’, ‘Seven years in Tibet’, ‘Earth’ and countless others. Each bespeaks of a war, an era, a religion and human strife – whether emotional or physical.
And if one looks at the numerous films made on the holocaust (such as ‘The shining’) that have abetted in keeping the memory of the horrors that took place at Auschwitz alive, and those tailored around the backdrop of partition (of India and Pakistan), one would realize that films have been and still very much are, the greatest sources of historical, political and social commentary in the world.

So will ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ (‘In the name of God’) prove to be more than just a film which revives Pakistani cinema? Will it aid in reforming the ‘Muslim image’ towards the West? Or would it perhaps assist in creating an additional gash in the country’s ever-widening cultural schism between the liberals and the fundamentalists?
Will the film rise up to the hype that surrounds it, or won’t it? It is yet to be ascertained.
But going by Shoaib Mansoor’s ‘Director’s statement’ (on the film’s webpage), where he affirms that it was his “duty to rectify the damage he [Junaid Jamshed] had done to the already suffering society under the influence of fundamentalists”, the stakes of ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ being a revolutionary feature film, are estimated to be pretty high.

Instep, The News

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