Khuda Ke Liye (For God’s Sake) directed by Shoaib Mansoor, the film has caused enormous controversy in Pakistan with right wing elements and the clergy. The film is set in Pakistan, India and the United States and tells the story of a young Pakistani going to the United States for further studies leading up to 9/11.
In All Things Pakistani, Yasser Latif Hamdani’s review of Khuda Ke Liye sheds light on the status of this iconic contemporary film:
“Since President Gen. Pervez Musharraf came to power, music alongside the media and creative arts in general have flourished; this film carries forward this commercial and cultural trend. The film was released on July 20th, 2007.
It is important to note that this is one of very few, if not only, independent motion pictures to be released to a cinema-going Pakistani market. The general trend in local cinema revolves around formulaic song and dance numbers, reminiscent of Bollywood musicals. Independent film, or films that break this formula, are rare if not entirely absent.
The film was produced in conjunction with the film division of the Karachi based network, Geo TV.
Audiences and art critics across Pakistan have met the film with praise and acclaim by film and art critics, but the film has been reviled by the conservative religious clergy.
We had a preview of the movie Khuda Ke Liye at ATP where we had posed a question whether Shoaib Mansoor will be able to revive Pakistan cinema? A probable answer comes from myself who recently got chance to see this movie. The record breaking Pakistani film Khuda Ke Liye has become my favourite film overnight- Hollywood inclusive. Or more accurately I should say, that there hasn’t been a film in the past that has moved and affected me in this way.
Given the standing ovation the film is getting in theatres all over Pakistan from rich and poor alike, one can safely say that I am not the only one. For one thing it is a uniquely Pakistani story, which could have only come out of Pakistan. To sum it up, it is about us – the people of Pakistan warts and all- take it or leave it.
The genius of Shoaib Mansoor was never in doubt for those who have seen his videos or for that matter the famous Alpha Bravo Charlie – the TV Drama on Pakistan Army. What I was unprepared for was the depth in his thought and the way he has managed to capture the Pakistani dilemma on screen. Ours is a complex and rich predicament which needs to be captured in all its nuances and appreciated in all its paradoxical colours. KKL did just that.
I went to the theatre expecting to see the same old liberal v. fundo arguments. There were those, but unlike how these arguments play out in “The Friday Times” and the “Nawai Waqt“, this remarkable film is fully conscious of its Pakistani identity and the strong Islamic component that forms part thereof.
At the risk of spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, this is the story of two brothers, Mansoor (played by Shaan) and Sarmad (played by theatre actor/musician Fawad of EP fame) both musicians, brought in a well to do Pakistani family. Mansoor and Sarmad are torn apart by the latter’s increased involvement with a certain Maulana Taheri (based most probably on Maulana Sami ul Haq of JUI-S component of the MMA), who turns the soft spoken Sarmad into full fledge Jehadi.
Things are complicated when the brothers’ cousin Mary arrives from London to spend a few days with them, only to discover that she has been tricked by her father into coming to Pakistan to avoid her marrying her Non-Muslim boyfriend Dave. Meanwhile Mansoor leaves for Chicago to enrol at the “School of Music” there. In an epic that switches from London to Lahore to Waziristan to Nangahar Afghanistan to Chicago, these ordinary Pakistanis are increasingly faced with both internal and external conflict. And then there is September 11”.
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