Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

April 4, 2008

By god, terrific!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 6:52 pm

April 04, 2008

Cast: Shaan, Fawad Khan, Iman Ali, Naseeruddin Shah, Alex Edwards

Director: Shoaib Mansoor

It’s difficult to talk about Khuda Kay Liye as merely another new film at the multiplexes. When I first saw it at the International Film Festival of India in Goa last November, I came away truly amazed. It’s not only the most important film to come out of Pakistan for as long as one can remember, it is, more importantly the most relevant mainstream film on Islam that you’ve possibly seen.

Directed by Shoaib Mansoor, Khuda Kay Liye is a brave and inherently honest film that addresses pertinent issues like Islamic fundamentalism, the status of women in contemporary Islam, the consequential effects of 9/11 on Muslims in America, and the divide in Pakistani society between the liberals and the extremists. At its very core, however, Khuda Kay Liye has a single and very clear message — that Islam is a progressive religion, but its teachings are often manipulated by fundamentalists.

The film follows the lives of two brothers in Lahore, both musically inclined. The younger, Sarmad is brainwashed by a radical Muslim cleric into believing that music is against Islam. Distancing himself from his art, he abandons his family and joins a fundamentalist group in a village in the outskirts. Misled into believing that he’d be upholding the honour of Islam by doing so, Sarmad agrees to be married to his London-bred cousin Mary against her wishes, and on the insistence of her hypocrite father who wants to end her relationship with an English boyfriend.

On the other hand, Sarmad’s older brother Mansoor, a liberal, signs up for music school in Chicago where he finds his soul mate in Janie, an American. All’s going well for them until 9/11 happens and Mansoor is wrongly accused of having terrorist links only because he’s a Muslim.

Despite its obvious flaws — which includes some amateurish acting, modest production values for a film of this scale, and more than a few creative liberties in the plot — Khuda Kay Liye is still an immensely engaging film because it’s made from the heart. It’s impossible not to root for its characters, all of which find their lives turned upside down because of the politics of religion. How can you not be angry for what happens to Mansoor, an innocent man suffering because of the faith he follows? How can your heart not go out to Mary who’s trapped in a far corner of the world, married against her will, forced to become a mother? How can you not feel if only a little sympathy for Sarmad — a good man, manipulated in the name of God?

Khuda Kay Liye works because it makes a point that all of us can relate to. Featuring Naseeruddin Shah in a small but integral role of the scholar who decodes Islam for a packed courtroom, the film stars an otherwise all-Pakistani cast led by the charismatic actor Shaan in the role of Mansoor.

It’s a film that’s got a soundtrack full of haunting tunes that lend themselves naturally to its ambitious theme — I can assure you at least a few numbers will stay in your head long after you’ve seen the film.

In conclusion, I’d say that’s true of the film as well. Khuda Kay Liye is one of those films that will gnaw at you and force you to consider its message. It’s a noble, well-intended effort and one that should not be missed. I’m going with four out of five for director Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye, it’s a sometimes shocking, sometimes hopeful drama about the things we do in the name of God.

This weekend, drop everything else and head to the cinemas for Khuda Kay Liye.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

1 Comment »

  1. Now that u ve given 4 i have to see the film.

    Comment by frankenstein — February 2, 2012 @ 6:48 am

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