Friday, March 16, 2012

Khuda Ke Liye

image from
Watched Shoaib Mansoor's "Khuda ke liye". This was the movie made in Hindi (or Urdu) by Pakistani independent film maker in collaboration with a Pakistani TV. This is the first  Pakistani movie I have watched.  

Without doubt, it is the best 9/11 movie I have seen from an Asian Muslim perspective. Compared to all Indian Hindi movies about 9/11 (My name is Khan, New york, Kurbaan etc), this movie stands apart, deep and moving.

The movie should be translated into English as "In the name of Islam and Allah" (not "In the name of God" as originally subtitled in English). The movie is all about the intense debate and drama between the religious fundamentalists (who want Islam to remain unaltered in its philosophy, interpretation, culture, laws, rules and customs even after 1400 years, even after spreading to almost every nation in the world, even in the age of scientific and technological advances, and even in the age of  democracy) and people who are modern (marry non-Muslims, live-in-together without the bond of marriage, drink alcohol, sing and worship music, live a rich life style etc), but yet consider themselves as Muslims.

The movie revolves around three Muslim youths, two Pakistanis and one Brit-Asian, two men and one woman, and runs in three countries, i.e, Pakistan, England and USA. All three choose different paths, but in the name of Islam and Allah their lives are completely ruined forever. The movie digs deep into the relevance of Islam in modern world.

One brother chooses to go backwards believing in every word of Islamic fundamentalist, and the other goes to the world's most liberated country in search of music. The Brit-Asian (her father is a Pakistani and mother Brit-white) girl is forced into Islam, because her father thinks this is the only way of repentance for all his misdeeds (marrying a non-Muslim, drinking alcohol etc). 

At the end, all three fail to accomplish their goals and dreams. The one, who turns into fundamentalist, realizes the horror of being a fundamentalist, but too late. The other, who is the USA, is tortured till he loses all his mental capacity, because democratic liberated world cannot believe one can be Muslim and be democratic at the same time. The woman, forced to live the life of medieval century, although gets legal justice, loses all her dreams she dreamt in the UK.

The whole movie subtly depicts how the young Muslim generation's life is ruined in the name of Islam and Allah, whether you chose to be a fundamentalist or want to live a progressive life; no, it does not matter, although the movie ends with an optimistic note , which I beleive is the artist's dream of building a new world for Muslims, starting from a scratch (symbolically shown as Mary starts sweeping the floor - the change in Islam has to start from woman, who can sweep all the past and start afresh).

The Islamic issues about music and women rights are discussed in a documentary way to portray that Islam was never against music, and always upheld the rights of women. The movie even tries to differentiate religion from culture, but at the same time shows their confusion between religion and nation (e.g., we ruled India for 1000 years, we ruled Spain for 800 years). The 10 minute Naseeruddin Shah's insight into Islam reminds me of Indian or Buddhist philosophy to summarise the essence of every religious pathway (not religious practice) is the same, "look inwards".

Naseeruddin Shah's words are philosophical, beyond any religion for that matter. When Mary taunts him that namaz is a mere exercise, he replies ‘meri ibaadat ko exercise kahne wali ya to bahut pahunchi hui hai ya bahut dukhi hai‘ (The one who describes my worship as exercise is either spiritually very elevated or is very sad). He tells in court ‘deen me dadhi hai, dadhi me deen nahi‘ (In religion there is beard, not other way round).

There are plenty of short comings as in every good movie. The plot is manipulative (which is essential to convey what the director wants to say). The message, towards the end of the movie, is too simplistic for such a complex issue, "I don't hate USA because few of them are bad. Don't label all Muslims as terrorists as few of them are..".I will not go into further details of short comings as they are best left to movie critics and juries.

I would strongly recommend it as a 'must watch'. It will stir you. 


  1. Yes, its a great movie. Every Indian and Pakistani must watch this. It is also shot at various interesting locations in Pakistan. Check Filmapia website for this movie locations

  2. Keshav,
    Thanks for telling about this movie. Many of our `good' movies are `simplistic' movies either in treatment or in message.

    1. His next movie, 'Bol' is also must watch!