`RamchandPakistani` - a poignant tale set in two nations Rating: ***
Cross border problems is the basic theme of first time
Pakistani director Mehreen Jabbar`s "Ramchand Pakistani".
Since partition in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars, excluding
the Kargil conflict. Six decades after partition, the common man continues to
pay a heavy price for the tension between the two countries.
There are several cases of innocent people from India and Pakistan who are
caught and sent to jail on mere suspicion.
Mehreen`s film focuses on the human sufferings on both sides of the border and
she has succeeded in giving it unbiased treatment.
The stellar performances by the entire cast make "Ramchand Pakistani"
an emotionally engrossing watch.
Set in 2002, the film, inspired by a true story, is about the accidental
crossing of the Pakistan-India border by a boy and his father.
"The film is based on actual events. My father (former Pakistani politician
and filmmaker Javed Jabbar) works a lot in the areas close to the desert. One
day he came across a father-son duo who narrated their story to him. That is
where we got the inspiration to make this film. I am sure it will reach out to
audiences," said Mehreen.
The film revolves around Ramchand, an eight-year-old Dalit Hindu boy. He lives
with his parents - mother Champa (Nandita Das) and father Shankar (Rashid
Farooqui) in a village in the border area of Pakistan.
One day, after a fight with his mother, Ramchand runs away from home. While
walking aimlessly, he accidentally crosses the border not knowing this will cost
him his freedom.
His father spots him crossing the line of control and tries to stop him. In
doing so, he too crosses the border. As expected, the boy and his father are
caught and put in a jail in India. After that starts their long battle to prove
their innocence and secure freedom.
While at the mercy of jail authorities, Shankar tries to cope with the trauma of
forced separation from his mother. His mother is shattered by their sudden
Nandita is the only non-Pakistani actor in "Ramchand Pakistani".
Well-known Pakistani TV and stage actors like Rashid Farooqi, Maria Wasti and
Farooq Pario`s performances are specially noteworthy.
Fazal Hussain, who plays the eight-year-old protagonist Ramchand, has been
particularly appreciated for his outstanding performance.
"The younger Ramchand has been played by Fazal Hussain. A friend of mine
who is a director himself suggested him after a lot of search. The older one,
however, is 14 years old. He is the son of a mechanic in Pakistan and has acted
for the first time ever in any film," said Mehreen.
The no-frills film is made at a nominal budget. Technically, the film is not of
high quality, but Mehreen`s narrative manages to hold the viewers` attention
till the credits roll out.
Percept Picture Company (PPC) will yet again bring Indo-Pak relations closer,
as they again take the responsibility to release another Pakistani Film
“Ramchand Pakistani” in India. After successful journey with cross-border
film Khuda Kay Liye, PPC is in all good confidence that Ramchand Pakistani would
add more feathers to their cap. The film directed by young Pakistani women
Film-Maker, Mehreen Jabbar, stars India’s most critically acclaimed actress
Nandita Das, along side Pakistani actors like Rashid Farooqui, Noman Ijaz, Maria
Wasti, Navaid Jabbar and little boy Syed Fazal Hussain. The film will open in
Indian Cinemas this August 22.
Ramchand Pakistani is derived from a true story concerning the accidental
crossing of the Pakistan-Indian border during a period of extreme, war-like
tension between the two countries by two members of a Pakistani Hindu family
belonging to the `untouchable` caste, and the extraordinary consequences of this
unintended action upon the lives of a woman, a man, and their son.
The singular theme of the film is how a child from Pakistan aged eight years
learns to cope with the trauma of forced separation from his mother while being
held prisoner, along with his father in the jail of a country i.e. India, which
is hostile to his own, while on the other side of the border, the wife-mother,
devastated by their sudden disappearance builds a new chapter of her life, by
her solitary struggle for sheer survival.
The film portrays the lives of a family that is at the bottom of a
discriminatory religious ladder and an insensitive social system, which is
nevertheless tolerant, inclusive and pluralist. The irony is compounded by the
fact that such a family becomes hostage to the acrimonious political
relationship between two neighbor-states poised on the brink of war.