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March 2008
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Film Khuda ke Liye opens new Avenues of Thought
By A Staff Writer

These days a lot of Muslims, world over are downloading a Pakistani movie Khuda Ke Liye from video sharing web sites like Youtube etc. Whole lot of social networking web sites are full of views and reviews of Khuda Ke Liye.

The interesting thing about Khuda Ke Liye, released last year, is based on some very serious issues, raising many of controversial questions engaging the Muslim minds these days.

Khuda Ke Liye depicts the struggle of two brothers against religious extremism and the hardships they face after 9/11 WTO attack. A simple narrative shows how wrong interpretations of the old scriptures by religious leadership affects the life of Muslims. It deals with a tough subject and emerges considerably successful. This film is about the difficult situations in which Pakistanis and Muslims in general are caught up since 9/11. The struggle between the hardliners and ordinary Muslims spawns a rift not only between the western world and the Muslims but extends within the community and families.

The ordinary, educated Muslims are in a difficult situation because of their approach towards life and their western attire. They are criticized and harassed by the hardliners. On the other hand the western world sees ordinary Muslim as potential suspects of terrorism just because of their Muslim names.

Emerging paradox resulting in great suffering for an ordinary 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 movie revolves around two musician brothers – Mansoor and Sarmad - one of whom transits into religious extremism and the other falls victim to racial profiling by the US. Portrayal is focused over an upper middle class/rich family in Lahore with a mix of traditional and liberal values. The movie plot starts somewhere in pre 9/11 timeframe and ends in late 2002. The brothers have their own music group and are shown as beginning to make a mark on the music scene in Pakistan. The younger brother (Sarmad) gets involved in an extremist company whereas the elder brother (Mansoor) moves to Chicago to attend a music school.

The movie moves into post 9/11 territory when Mansoor is picked up by law enforcement agencies in the middle of the night from his apartment and detained ostensibly in an extra constitutional prison and humiliated in all ways. Sarmad on the other hand gets involved in the battle between Taliban, US forces and Northern Alliance.

Writer-Director Shoaib Mansoor has been able to put the things in perspective pretty well. The story is interesting as it handles two major issues – religious extremism and racial profiling. Other issues too chip in. Condition of women during Taliban days in Afghanistan, theological issues of acceptance of music and cultural contextualization of Islam and the way various groups are putting forward their own version of the religion too, receive mention.

Role of Maulana Wali, a scholar of Islam, played by Naseeruddin Shah forms the high point of the film. Being most experienced actor, Shah does a dexterous job. A well known scholar, Wali is often invited by the courts in Lahore to offer his opinion. His opinion on music in Islam has been tackled sensitively.

Film’s beauty lies not in the performances but in the dialogues and the content.

The film has its own beautiful moments. Khuda Ke Liye is not a closed film. It triggers a debate among viewers. Curious turns at several points leaves the audience stunned. It’s not always necessary that a film should always provide answers or offer conclusions. Khuda Ke Liye raises umpteen posers which need adequate responses in the changed contexts of 21st century. The films succeeds in the task.

It certainly fills a void that is growing each day. Non-Muslims may start seeing Muslims as a living entity, dogged by dilemmas that are typical of every community. It is only such minds that will then take the battles to logical conclusion demanding modern interpretation of the scriptures of yore.