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.
At the advent of the millennium Indian cinema witnessed a slew of fanatically jingoistic Pak-bashing films. Like any other passing phase, this too was substituted with pro-Pakistan films on the grounds of establishing good relations in changing times with our neighbouring country. From the victimized Muslims to terrorizing ones, we have seen enough of them on the Indian screen. But in most cases it was often served with the commercial consideration of manipulating an audience in the minority community. But when a Pakistani filmmaker comes up with a film, valiantly and unabashedly showing the black and white shades of the countrymen in a seemingly unbiased demeanour, the outcome appears more credible and relevant. Cinematically, we have often realized the potential of Pakistan in poetry but ridiculed it for prose. Khuda Kay Liye changes the latter notion with its poised and progressive point of view.
At the outset, Khuda Kay Liye starts as a story of two rock musician brothers Mansoor (Shan) and Sarmad (Fawad Khan) from Pakistan who are at the prime of their careers. The younger, Sarmad however comes in contact with a religious extremist group headed by Moulana Tahiri (Rasheed Naz) who brainwashes his mind into believing that pursuing music is against Islam. Slowly and subsequently he gives up music, starts keeping a beard and separates himself from his family to join the radical fundamentalists.
The story diversifies into a parallel track where Sarmad’s uncle (Humayun Kazmi) who is settled in London is worried of losing his only daughter Mary (Iman Ali) to a British guy who she is in love with. This despite the fact that the father himself is in a live-in relationship with a British woman! He justifies his double-standards offering the excuse that Islam allows a man to have relationship outside their religion but not a woman. So he gets his daughter to Pakistan to surreptitiously get her married with a prospective Pakistani groom. While we have seen such setting in several Hindi films ( DDLJ, Namastey London ), this one fortunately doesn’t lead to exploiting patriotic sentiments but on the contrary shows how the daughter is wronged in settling in country, absolutely alien to her.
The father initially asks Mansoor to get married to Mary but when he refuses, Sarmad is approached. Sarmad agrees and an incognizant Mary is forcibly married off to him at the outskirts of undeveloped Afghanistan. The father heartlessly leaves Mary behind in a region so rural that he finds difficult to use the toilets there. All this just so that his descendants are Pakistani!
On the other hand, the liberal Muslim, Mansoor’s story proceeds as he migrates to US to study music. But unfortunately after the 9/11 attack he is wrongly accused of being involved with terrorist organizations since he’s a Muslim.
Director Shoaib Mansoor remarkably reveals the plight of Muslims in three different continents and connects them in a fascinating way to comprehensively capture all interconnected issues. Not only does the film exhibit a drift between the Muslims and the Western World but also internally amongst the Muslim community amid the Liberals and the Extremists.
The climax set in a courtroom clears all ancient myths about Islam of men growing beard, women being behind veil and youngsters abhorring music and Western attire. Naseeruddin Shah impresses in a cameo playing a Muslim cleric who gives a disclosing discourse on how the fanatic fundamentalists manipulate Islam for their personal gains. All in the name of God! The director conceivably puts in a lot of his personal reformist thoughts in the film without getting preachy and retaining the entertainment value.
The production values aren’t slapdash as anticipated from usual Pakistani films. In fact it’s top-notch and at par with what the story seeks. The language wouldn’t be a problem with the Indian audience but the viewer needs to be a little more attentive in Naseer’s chaste Urdu revelation. Music undoubtedly is a highlight with the Sufi rock-number ‘ Bandya ’ and the undiluted devotional track ‘ Allah Ho ’ standing out.
Performances are equally accomplished. On an Indian analogy, Shan appears as a mix of Sanjay Dutt and Adnan Sami in his looks and comes up with a fabulous act. Fawad Khan as the indoctrinated extremist is engaging. Rasheed Naz is convincing as the venom-spewing and influential fundamentalist. Iman Ali gets an equally meaty role as much as her male counterparts and emerges victorious with her riveting performance.
Khuda Kay Liye vindicates the fallacy against the regressive approach of
Islam and also clears the myth that Pakistani films are constrained to shoddy
standards. In fact this one is much above excellence as compared to several
For God’s sake, you can’t afford to miss Khuda Kay Liye !