Khuda Ke Liye
Khuda Ke Liye
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 4 April 2008
Khuda Ke Liye
Naseruddin Shah, Iman Ali, Larry Neumann Jr, Austin Marie Sayre
Juggling multiple stories with supreme ease, the film introduces us to the liberal, music- loving Khan family whose two sons are also musicians. The younger one Sarmad is a bit impressionable while big brother Mansoor knows his mind. Sarmad?s casual visits to the local Maulana Tahiri (Rasheed Naz) turn into something more sinister; the enigmatic maulvi, a hardcore fundamentalist, is talking the innocent boy into becoming a fundamentalist. So slowly, the jeans and music go, the beard appears, and then the request that his mother wear a hijab, which she refuses to do. Under the blinding influence of Maulana Tahiri, Sarmad gets drawn into more serious crimes he never knew he was capable of.
On the other side of the globe, British national Mary?s (actually Marium) Pakistani father who lives with a white lady disapproves of her daughter marrying her white boyfriend. He takes her to a remote village on the pretext of visiting Pakistan and forcibly gets her married to the completely transformed Sarmad. Her father dumps her there immediately and hurries back as he can?t bear to use the toilets in the village.
After several weeks in captivity, with the help of the sympathetic local women, Mary tries to escape in a heart-wrenchingly shot scene but luck doesn?t support her and she?s caught. It?s indeed bizarre to see this modern woman being treated so disrespectfully under the pretext of Islam.
Meanwhile, Mansoor goes to America to learn music and falls for a white fellow student. While everything?s swell for some time, he gets discriminately picked up for questioning on the basis of his Muslim name. What follows is interrogation about terrorist links and horrific torture that knows no end. Mary, even after two years in the hell, refuses to give up and writes a letter to her boyfriend that sets things rolling. Sarmad?s father arrives to pick her up and take her to safety. Once in Pakistan, she refuses to go back to Britain and chooses to stay back to file a court case against her father and Sarmad.
Rarely does a film come along where you soak in the brilliant performances of the cast in each frame. Iman Ali who plays Mary has eyes that say more than words; this actor gives a soul-stirring performance so effective, she sketches the character in your mind permanently. Sarmad?s character undergoes several ranges and Fawad Afzal Khan?s gives a flawless performance, maintaining the character?s inherent innocence. Shaan, the gel-haired, luxury car-driving Pakistani who gets pulled up only because of his name is excellent. Rasheed Naz as the fundamentalist holy man is so believable, you can feel the anger swell up inside you steadily, as talks with authority against any liberal thought. Naseeruddin Shah as Maulana Wali, despite small screen-time, gives possibly, one of his most effective performances till date.
The background score is exceptional, bringing out the eeriness and urgency ever so often. The screenplay dexterously weaves in issues like gender discrimination, fundamentalism, Islam?s liberal versus extremist interpretations, and racial profiling in America through the lives of its protagonists. Dialogue is inspiring and not once resorts to clap-inducing gimmicks to get its point across. The songs are soulful too and you enjoy the way they?ve been interwoven in the story. Cinematography is superb and sound designing marvellous. Editing could have been a bit ruthless, as the audience today prefers shorter films over the three-hour long ones. Captain of the ship, director Samar Khan has tackled a subject that needs out attention and our time to discuss and debate it; and he has done so by giving us three engaging stories that stay with us long after the film is over.
Khuda Ke Liye has earned worldwide acclaim and awards at various international film festivals. Enjoy the film for its rightful liberal stance (excuse the pun) and its engaging storytelling.
Verdict: Four stars out of five