“I was made to believe that Indians and everything Indian are my enemies. I grew up not liking the country (India) too much.? This is from Shoaib Mansoor?producer of the Pakistani movie Khuda Kay Liye, in an interview to the DNA on April 13. The hit movie, Khuda Kay Liye, which means in the ?Name of God? is attracting significant curiosity and interest. With age and maturity Shoaib Mansoor says his views changed and that, ?there is no reason for the two countries to be at loggerheads?. But early impressions form the basis on which later concepts are built; formative reactions are known to continue well into later years, into adulthood too. This strong early dislike for India has clearly spilled into the making of Khuda Kay Liye. An echo of this negative feeling for India manifests itself when Shan played by Mansoor who has come to Chicago to learn music proudly tells his American girlfriend, ?It is we who have built the Taj Mahal?. Needless to say the Taj is India'snational heritage. It is a proof of the secular cultural fusion in India. Shan as the spokesperson for all Muslims is trying to take entire credit for the creation of the monumental magnificence of Taj Mahal and thus subtly blackening India'sinclusive, artistic and cultural heritage.
The film desperately tries to convey to the world that Islam is a liberal, tolerant, peace loving religion, but fails in this endeavour. The only convincing message that emerges from the movie is that if you are a Muslim extremist you will be saved, if you are a Muslim moderate you will be crushed by forces who have faced the brunt of radical Islamic terrorism such as America. Of the two brothers, Shan, the inspired musician, becomes a victim of racial profiling and is left to become a vegetable. Whereas Sarmad who takes up to religious extremism in the end is safe and sound. Fit as a fiddle he comes to sing the azan at the mosque in the end. The maulvis would say that Islam has saved him. Therefore, to be safe, more so after the world has started negatively viewing all the Muslims and Pakistanis after 9/11?to be safe Muslims have to take refuge in Islamic fundamentalism. This is what the movie tries to convey and dangerously succeeds.
The movie is a stark exposure of Islam at crossroads. It presents the religious conflict between moderate and orthodox Muslims. Of the two there is a strong likelihood of the latter overwhelming the former. This situation is creating a schism not only between the western world and Muslims but also within the Muslim community itself. The court scene?the climax where the two maulanas expound their interpretations of Islam sees Naseeruddin Shah in a pivotal role as Maulana Wali giving a brilliant performance. While Maulana Tahiri'sknowledge is limited to the body of Islam, Maulana Wali touches its very soul. According to Maulana Tahiri?a fundamentalist, music is vulgar and un-Islamic. But when an anguished Maryam?the heroine of the movie comes to Maulana Wali'shouse there is this beautiful song of K.L. Saigal playing. A disillusioned Maryam tells Maulana Wali that the purpose of doing five times namaz is just to exercise the body. A cool unruffled Maulana Wali reacting to Maryam'soutburst says that she must be a very pained soul to speak like that.
The movie is a pointer at the atrocities faced by Muslim women at the hands of their fellow Muslims. ?Why must we always go to an NGO to get heard?, asks a woman activist of Pakistan in the court scene. In Islam fatwa will be given if a Muslim woman marries a non-Muslim which is why the heroine Maryam living in London and having a British boyfriend is tricked into a forced marriage with her cousin Sarmad who is a prey to Islamic Talibanism. That the father of Maryam is himself having a live-in-relationship with a White woman, speaks of the double standards of parents living abroad. One however has to mention that this double standard is there even with non-Muslim Indians abroad. When Maryam is pregnant, she prays for the child to be a son. She does not want a daughter who she fears may be forced to confront a similar torture of Islamic rigidity as hers.
The ending of the movie is an anti-climax. While the audience are sure that Maryam after winning her case and custody of her child will go back to London with her British boyfriend, this stereotype ending does not occur. Maryam is shown going back to Afghanistan. She realises that she with her education has gained enough experience of fighting for a woman'scause and thus has much more to offer positively to primitive Afghanistan rather than to London. The last scene shows her sweeping the courtyard of an Afghanistan mud house. This turning back of the London educated Maryam to tribal Afghanistan is alarmingly suggestive that it is not just the meek and confused persons like Sarmad who in the name of going back to their roots are veiling their leanings to religious extremism, even educated youth, professionals who can be credited with logical thinking due to insecurity are going back to orthodox Islam which is turning them into terrorists.
The movie addresses the large baffled Muslim population sitting on the fence confronting religious extremism and moderateness. The fear here however is that after seeing this powerful movie many Muslims may be influenced to jump on the former side?religious extremism. The world at large has a cause to worry.
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