02 July, 2008

Review: Khuda ke liye

Rating: 3.5 out of 4

 We know that there are terrorists who kill in the name of Islam, and Jehad. We know that there are people, even outside the Middle East, who force their daughters to marry against their will, to keep their family 'honour'. We know that boys are indoctrinated into terrorism in the name of Jehad. We know that racial profiling exists, and that those captured in the US in the name of terrorism are presumed guilty, and tortured.

 But it's one thing to know, and another to feel. Even to those who know, "Khuda Ke Liye" is an excelent movie because it makes us feel this injustice. It takes no prisoners.Although it has it's faults, Khuda Kay Liye is an important, well-written, and well-executed movie, which does not shy away from the truth.

 The movie is a bit slow on the take-off, but gains steadily along the flight, and lands perfectly. There are three main characters: two borthers and their cousin sister. At the start of the movie, the brothers, names Mansoor and Sharmad are pop singers famous in Pakistan, while the girl, named Mary, is the daughter of a Pakistani man settled in England. But Sharmad gets involved with a Jehadi mullah, while Mansoor goes abroad with the money he has saved, to learn music. Mary's love affair with an English boy is dissaproved by her father, and she is tricked to Pakistan to marry Sharmad, who has to keep her imprisoned in a house on the Pak-Afghan border while he is trained to become a Jehadi. Mansoor is later arrested, after 9/11 on the false suspicion of being a terrorist.

 This movie tries to tackle a lot of issues, but fortunately, and due to writer-director-producer Shoiab Mansoor Khan's skill, none of them fade into the background, or seem too incomplete. The various plotlines are merged and edited nicely, and the pace never slacks after the slow start. The cinematography is excellent, from the deserts on the Pak-Afghan border to the depressing prisons in the USA. The background music is excellent, especially the "Allah ho" theme.

 The movie is imperfect precisely because it tries too much in too short a time. More time could've been given to the Jehad battles, or to the efforts to Mansoor's wife to free him. And for a movie with music as one of it's key themes, not all the songs are good. The three lead actors is uniformly good, but they rarely shine. Only Naseeruddin Shah as the progressive maulana and Rasheed Naaz as the Jehadi mullah are extra-ordinary.

 Make no mistake: this is an important film, and it is a good film. For those who complain moderate Islam does not speak out against the exteremists, here is an example to the contrary. Naseeruddin Shah's speech at the end may be a bit preachy, but it is right, and we feel it. It is not showy, or deliberate, as many movie 'speeches'. The movie leaves a bittersweet taste at the end, and that is most certainly deliberate.

 A must-watch.


  1. Well, I'll catch the movie when it hits the TV screen. A film coming out of Pakistan, called by their own politician as the 'petri-dish of terrorism' would certainly go a long way in raising important questions about the identity crisis seen in the Islamic world, grappling to come to terms with holding on to traditions in a fast changing world that does not seem to approve them. Again this asserts the reach the medium of films has on touching upon global issues, Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' is one of the recent successes that comes to my mind. It is also nice to hear that the movie breathed life into the decaying Pakistani movie industry. Also, great to read was a report on the front page of today's DNA that, organisations that spread hate and fanaticism among Muslims in India are beginning to lose their sway over the people. Hope that this point of inflection is reached soon and we'll have a better world to live in.

  2. Nice Rahul... Yeah, I too like Naseeruddin Shah (to think that he's from Xavier's Ahmedabad too!)

    Sorry man, there's nothing that I can add, or think of adding.
    Keep Blogging!