Kuda Kay Liye, first Pakistani film in 43 years with wide Indian release
A critically acclaimed Pakistani film exploring the relationship between liberal and fundamentalist Muslims has been released across cinemas in India. It is the first Pakistani film to get a wide commercial release in India in over four decades. Khuda Kay Liye (In the Name of God) focuses on the lives of Muslims after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.
Officially, India and Pakistan have banned each other's films since going to war in 1965. But in recent years, the two countries have made exceptions. In 2003, Pakistani film Khamosh Paani (Silent Waters) had a limited release in India. In 2006, Pakistan allowed three Indian films to be shown.
'Answer to West'
Khuda Kay Liye stars Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah. Pakistani Shoaib Mansoor makes his debut as the film's director. "It's been long that terrorism has been linked with Muslims and it has become synonymous with the community," Shah said, the Reuters news agency reports.
"It was high time that an answer to this was given to the West... That is the only reason that this film has mostly been made in English, to cater to the western audiences."
The film had its premiere in Mumbai (Bombay) on Thursday evening. "It is a very good movie and more films like this should be made," Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar said. "Khuda Kay Liye has been appreciated very much wherever it is screened and it is a very good bond between the two countries," he said.
In 2006, Pakistan approved three Indian films for screening. These included Mughal-e-Azam, the 1960 classic starring Dilip Kumar and Madhubala; Taj Mahal, a 2005 film starring Pakistani actress Sonia Jehan; and the 1984 film Sohni Mahiwal.
More recently, Bollywood releases Welcome and Race have been shown in Pakistan.
Indian films are hugely popular in Pakistan and illicit copies are easy to find. India's Hindi-language film industry, which includes Bombay's Bollywood movies, is the world's largest by viewership.
From Wikipedia :
This film is about the difficult situations in which Pakistanis and Muslims in general are caught up since 9/11. There is a struggle between the Fundamentalists and Liberal Muslims. This situation is creating a rift not only between the western world and the Muslims but also within the Muslim community. The educated and modern Muslims are in a difficult situation because of their approach towards life and their western attire. They are criticized and harassed by the fundamentalists. On the other hand the western world sees them as potential suspects of terrorism just because of their Muslim names.
This paradox is resulting in great suffering for a forward looking Muslim. This is the theme of the film 'Khuda Kay Liye', which in English means 'In the name of God' or literally 'For God's sake'.
The interesting thing about this film is how it connects the happenings in three continents. This film is based on serious issues, raising a lot of controversial questions engaging the Muslim minds these days.
The film is about two brothers who are pop musicians in Lahore, one of whom gets radicalised under the influence of extremists, while the other goes to America and gets unlawfully detained after 9/11. Third central character in the movie is Mary (Maryam), a British girl of Pakistani origin, who is brought to Pakistan by her father and married off against her will after finding out that she has a British boyfriend, despite her father having been in a string of relationships in the UK with British women.
Reception and Implications
Khuda Kay Liye was released on July 20th, 2007.
It is important to note that this is one of very few, if any, 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 Lollywood musicals. Independent film, or films that break this formula, are rare if not entirely absent.
Audiences and art critics across Pakistan have loved this film}}, but the conservative religious clergy have criticized it severely. However, the movie has been well received by overseas Pakistanis. The international cinemas, dominated almost entirely by Hollywood films have made room for this film.
Khuda Kay Liye's themes include the role of music in Islam and the balance of Muslim values with moderate Western enlightenment. Audiences also praised the film because it rejuvenated Lollywood after many years. Some critics have rejected the film's claims about diverse religious personalities in Islamic, from a Muslim prespective, claiming that all quotes about Prophet Dawood (DÄwÅ«d) are manipulated to authenticate music in Islam.