Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Ke Liye (KKL) has finally hit the Indian screens after raking in crores of Rupees at the Pakistani box-office and winning rave reviews simultaneously at film festival circuits worldwide. It is indeed a historic event that after almost four decades, a Pakistani movie is being released in India. However, I’d not like to call it a movie concerning only Pakistanis. At heart, KKL is very much a global story. The story of the never ending battle between beliefs of the fundamentalists and the liberals. Khuda Ke Liye questions each and every aspect of the Muslim ideology and clears all clouds of myth related to Muslims in a post 9-11 world where Pakis and Sardars are assumed to be associates of a terrorist organisation conspiring on a terror attack on America.
This entire debate of Islamic fundamentalism has been portrayed beautifully in a story of three characters. Mansoor and Sarmad are brothers who have a budding musical career and reside in Lahore. Sarmad is faced by Mullah Tahiri, who instigates him to join the Jehadi league and presents in front of him, an orthodox interpretation of Islam as a religion which considers music and arts as haraam and denies basic human rights to the woman kind. Sarmad falls prey to Mullah’s sermons and starts sticking on to the salwar attire, starts growing a beard and even insists on his Ammi to wear a Hijab. On the other hand, we have the liberal Mansoor, Sarmad’s brother, who leaves for the US to pursue his higher studies in music at GoodEnough College in Chicago. At the wake of 9-11, Mansoor falls prey to the highly suspicious American feds who treat him as one of the Talibans and pick on each and every detail of Mansoor’s stuff left in his apartment. The third protagonist is Mary, born to a Pakistani father in London, and who wants to get married to a Brit. Her father conspires to get her married secretly to a Paki, without her consent. He takes her to Pakistan and with help from Mullah Tahiri, marries her to Sarmad in a remote village on the borders of Afghanistan, so that she can’t escape. This entire episode of Mary being captivated in an open prison, being deprived of her right of choosing a life, and all of this brought upon her by her own father shocked me to the core. Not only that, when she tries to escape, she is “punished” by being loaded by the burden of parenthood. All in the name of God as prescribed by Mullah for Sarmad. And Sarmad- he is forcibly taken to war and has to prove his “mardaangee” by killing someone. And yet again, all in the name of God. As the chapters of the story unfold, we even get to experience the serene music of Mansoor at his California Music School. The plot travels through three nations – Pakistan, England and the USA to convey the message of how twisted minds and their even more twisted interpretations can unleash chaos on a world that is already filled with chaos .
And as the movie nears the climax, we get to witness the crux of the film. The real message of what Islam actually stands for – in the words of Moulana Wali portrayed by The Naseeruddin Shah. I wondered that even after almost 2/3rd of the movie was through I couldn’t see a hint of him, although he made it to quite a portion of the movie’s publicity posters. And yes, it isn’t a cameo. Coz he speaks and everyone else listens. That Islam doesn’t deny women of their rights. That Islam doesn’t consider music or any art form as haraam. And that Islam doesn’t reside in ‘Dadhee’ or a prescribed attire. It was a bit difficult for me to comprehend the Urdu though, and subtitles were much needed. But nevertheless, the climax at the Lahore’s court made me wanna stand and clap my hands. But did Mary get her share of justice? Of course there’s no undoing to the harm that was done to her. But she decides on her own to stay back and bring hope and education to the women in the remote village where she was captivated. I just wanted to kill that daft prick -his father. What a hypocrite!
It goes without saying that going by the standards of Pakistani cinema, this one boasts of a grand scale and production values that can equal almost ten of the regular Lollywood fare. The music is really heartfelt and I reccomend you to buy the CD when it releases, and tune into the song :Tiluk Kamod which sounds like a Fuzon composition and has a perfect blend of world music and Classical renditions. And above all, it carries a message that beats commercialism and knocks it down. Naseeruddin Shah scorches the screen with his presence. And actors Shaan (I believe I saw him in the Fuzon’s video for “Khamaaj” )and Fawad Khan play their part with tremendous credibility. But Mullah Tahiri played by Rasheed Naaz is the most memorable character of the movie, just because he breathes life into Tahiri’s speech, mannerisms and orthodox nature. Khuda Kay Liye is a must watch and something for you to think upon for a long while. WATCH IT and THINK.