Friday, October 10, 2008

Khuda Ke Liye

The American film industry is most commonly referred to as Hollywood and their Indian counterpart as Bollywood, even though the South Indian film industry churns more films every year than the 2 put together. Should the Indian film industry be called Tollywood (Tamil)? I have heard of the Pakistani film industry referred to as Lollywood after their capital Lahore, but I can’t say that I have seen any of their productions, until last week. My Dad recommended ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ to me which translates to English as ‘In the Name of God’. I am not a fan of Indian cinema per say but I will admit that they do come up with a few good films every year or so and I trust my old man’s taste so I took this one out for a spin, and I was not disappointed.

When it comes to watching Indian films I have learned not to be too critical of the production so I leant the same attitude to this Lollywood flick. It is acceptable that some of the editing will be shoddy and occasionally the acting might suck balls. As for the song and dance routine, I sometimes enjoy it. It gives Indian cinema a unique flavor of its own. I had no real expectations of ‘Khuda Ke Liya’ when I settled back to watch the film but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Written and directed by Shohaib Mansoor, the story kicks off in the year 2000, before the notaries 9/11 attacks and culminates at the peak of the American retaliation in Afghanistan.

There have been a few movies made about this period in various countries and all of the ones I have seen till now are portrayed from the American point-of-view or anti-terrorist perspective. ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ follows the path of 3 individuals who are tied together but experience this significant period in 3 very different ways. It was remarkable to see the outcome. I would not say that this movie is anti-American or pro-Islam, but you cannot deny that its roots are Pakistani. The dialogue in the film is quite thought provoking at times, especially the climactic scene where a Jihadist Mullah and pacifist Imam get into a heated debate. The cast of ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ is also quite vast as the story does not just revolve around one person and majority of them gave some applaud able performances. The only face I recognized was Nassar Udhin Shah; a well known Indian actor also lent his talents to the cast in a short guest appearance.

Shoaib Mansoor has a solid track record on Pakistani Television and has received numerous awards in his mother land. I feel he has done a commendable job with this film and in many ways his efforts could be deemed as courageous. He has delved into territories that would make him quite unpopular amongst Muslim fanatics in his own Country and overly patriotic Western critics as well. Apart from tackling the obvious Jihadist philosophy, he has also raised thought to numerous other misconceptions people have about the Quran. ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ is an extremely original film and it has received well deserved international attention having won the silver Pyramid Award at the 31st Cairo film festival and the Roberto Rossellini Award from the Italian film industry. There was only one real negative criticism I have of the film which pertains to the beginning. It starts off with a short clip of post-9/11 then back tracks to 2000 where the actual story starts. This glimpse into the future was totally unnecessary and it totally gave away what would have been a shocking ending to the film. Other than that, this movie is really not one to be missed.

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