In a quiet little village on the Indian side of the border during Partition, a small-time robber is in love with a Muslim girl. Tensions flare up after a train arrives with the dead bodies of Hindus. The locals of the village gather forces to give a fitting reply to this massacre, by killing a train taking Muslim refugees to Pakistan.
The train is also carrying the robber's lover, while he is part of the gang that is to massacre the passengers. Pamela Rooks makes liberal changes to Khuswant Singh's original novel, but fails to capture its humanism and its various narratives.
M S Sathyu makes his acting debut in the film as the father of the Muslim girl.
Jinnah (1998): The influence of Powell and Pressburger's Matter of Life and Death and Ernst Lubitsch's Heaven Can Wait is evident in Jamil Dehlavi's biopic Jinnah that desperately tries to imitate Attenborough's Gandhi.
Like a character in Lubitsch's film, Shashi Kapoor plays the keeper at heaven's door who takes Jinnah on a tour of his past life, and even to the future, as they try and decipher the driving force behind the decisions Jinnah took.
Some pertinent questions are asked: was Jinnah responsible for the Partition? But the answers are one-sided and jingoistic and paints the entire Hindu community in one colour (like Pinjar and Gadar paints the Muslim community), not sparing even Mahatma Gandhi.
Nehru is repeatedly depicted as a man under the clutch of Edwina, and thus an inept leader compared to the forthright Jinnah. It fails to portray the real horrors of Partition, as depth of story and character development gives way to cheap sensationalism.
Like Pinjar, Jinnah tries to redeem itself by making some points against Islamic fundamentalism and equal rights of woman under Islam. But these points are so muted in the cacophony of bashing India, Hindus Mountbatten and Nehru that Jinnah fails miserably and ends up as a poor justification for the acts of a man who perhaps needed no justification.
Image: M S Sathyu also acted in Train To Pakistan