Movie: Ramchand Pakistani

Posted on July 25, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, TV, Movies & Theatre
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Adil Najam

Ramchand Pakistan, a Mehreen Jabbar FlmI have not yet seen the new Batman movie (The Dark Knight) that everyone is talking about, but the movie I would really really like to see right now is Mehreen Jabbar’s maiden feature film release, Ramchand Pakistani.

Of course, the fact that it is produced and written by Javed Jabbar, one of my favorite people and someone who has always shown me great kindness and encouragement, peaks my curiosity. But it very much a project of his daughter, Mehreen Jabbar, an acclaimed film-maker in her own right. But most of all I am dying to see Ramchand Pakistani because every review I have read of it and ever promo clip I have seen reminds me of what is now one of my all-time favorite movies, Khamosh Paani (Silent Waters).

Ramchand Pakistan, a Mehreen Jabbar Flm

I have been hearing wonderful things about it for the last couple of years while it was being made, and three people who did see it recently when it was screened in Pakistan have nothing but praise for the sensitivity with which a difficult subject has been tackled but also the visual and artistic content. It was recently released in Pakistan, but just after I had left.

Ramchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen JabbarRamchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen JabbarRamchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen JabbarRamchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen JabbarRamchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen JabbarRamchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen JabbarRamchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen JabbarRamchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen Jabbar

The film’s website describes the essentials of the story, thus:

Ramchand Pakistan, a film by Mehreen JabbarRamchand Pakistani is derived from a true story concerning the accidental crossing of the Pakistan-Indian border during a period (June 2002) of extreme, war-like tension between the two countries by two members of a Pakistani Hindu family belonging to the ‘untouchable’ (Dalit) caste, and the extraordinary consequences of this unintended action upon the lives of a woman, a man, and their son.

The singular theme of the film is how a child from Pakistan aged eight years learns to cope with the trauma of forced separation from his mother while being held prisoner, along with his father in the jail of a country i.e. India, which is hostile to his own, while on the other side of the border, the wife-mother, devastated by their sudden disappearance builds a new chapter of her life, by her solitary struggle for sheer survival.

The film portrays the lives of a family that is at the bottom of a discriminatory religious ladder and an insensitive social system, which is nevertheless tolerant, inclusive and pluralist. The irony is compounded by the fact that such a family becomes hostage to the acrimonious political relationship between two neighbor-states poised on the brink of war.

But the real power of the human story comes from something that was captured well in the film notes post at the Tribeca Film Festival site:

The most haunting frame of Ramchand Pakistani may be its first. Over a black screen, the words appear: adapted from actual events. The world is full of mad facts, but among the maddest is that in 2002, as Indian and Pakistani troops massed against each other on the countries’ border, an eight-year-old boy named Ramchand wandered over the invisible line separating his own side of the desert from that of India’s and was taken prisoner. Going in search of Ramchand, his father followed him across and was captured as well. They were held in an overcrowded Indian jail for five years.

The film is clearly Mehreen’s, but equally clearly the story has Javed Jabbar all over it. Of course the story idea and writing was his, but anyone who knows him and his passion (for film; he produced and directed Pakistan’s first full-length cinema film in English: “Beyond the Last Mountain,” 1976) and his lasting interest and in the Thar region can see that it is more thanjust genes that he has given his daughter. Reviews seem to rave about Mehreen Jabbar’s directorial talents and also about the cinematography of Sofian Khan. The songs from Shubha Mudgal and Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan are themselves making waves. Most of all, the reviewers seem to be totally charmed by the seven-and-half year old Syed Fazal Hussain who played the lead role of Ramchand Pakistani. As the Tribeca site puts it, “Syed Fazal Hussain proves one of those miracle discoveries – he’s a real kid, all piss and vinegar and shaking vulnerabilities-and Jabbar does well to dwell on his face as much as she does.” All of these are yet more reasons why I really really want to see the movie.

If you have already seen it, do let us know what you thought.

(Note, other ATP movie posts of interest: Jinnah-The Movie, Man Push Cart, Kala Pul, Kaanch, Khuda key Liye, Charlie Wilson’s War, Son of a Lion)

22 Comments on “Movie: Ramchand Pakistani”

  1. ASAD says:
    July 25th, 2008 3:30 pm

    I have also heard very good things about this movie. Do you know if it is now released for general viewing in Pakistan.

  2. ASAD says:
    July 25th, 2008 3:31 pm

    By the way, I do think that we are now seeing a real revival of popular cinema in Pakistan. There are a number of movies that are beginning to get the crowds back in.

  3. Hank says:
    July 25th, 2008 5:18 pm

    The video trailer and pictures look quite spectacular. The fact that there was collaborations between artists from Pakistan and India on this movie even though the subject is politically heavy is a good sign for relations between the two countries.

    Specially the message of the human story and the tragedy of the family caught in this is a very powerful one.

  4. Ali Dada says:
    July 25th, 2008 11:48 pm

    sir jee, your math questions are getting harder for our Pakistani awaam.

    kindly note only 48% of Pakistanis are literate.

  5. Ahsan says:
    July 26th, 2008 12:38 am

    It will be in the cinemas from Aug 1st, 2008.We should go and watch that film. Mehreen and his father have gathered finances for the venture from here and there and we should try and help them in returning back their endeavours. There is a hope in this project for some serious film making in the country. Khuda Ke Liye got all the hype because it was hugely foreign funded and made against extremism (which becomes an international theme these days and it is also in vogue to call names to Jihadis)but this is something DIFFERENT. Mehreen does not take easy route of blaming terrorists or resorting to Indian style of film making to earn name for her film and for herself.

    I think she needs our support and that we can provide by watching this film in cineam instaed of waiting for pirated prints or cable telecasts or Eid transmissions to get our hands on something that is made with honesty to do something creative with the feel for a real story and issue of our society. If we give back Mehreen her returns, she would step forward for another true, creative work. Otherwise she can get tired and her tiredness will make way for same monotonous Gujjar storylines, Indianised cinema or anti-jihadi themes.

    Go and watch the film plzzzz!

  6. Naseer says:
    July 26th, 2008 6:07 am

    - Adil Najam,
    Yes, We are all awaiting the release of the film on 1st August.
    Though I am not a very enthusiastic movie goer, but for this movie by Mehreen Jabbar and the reason Javed Jabbar is my alma mater (Public School, Karachi Cantt), very senior to me and now the main organizer of our school’s golden jubilee celebrations to be held shortly.
    I remember the making of Javed Jabbar’s first film “Beyond the Last Mountain”, a scene of which was shot in Karachi University,1973 and we were asked to walk the Library stairs(just that)for 10 minutes.
    Those were the days.
    Sincerely
    Naseer

  7. Azmatullah says:
    July 26th, 2008 8:33 am

    This looks like an excellent effort and an important topic. As teh review in teh writeup wrote, what is most powerful is teh fact that thsi is an true story. That is what is really sad. Thank you for doing teh movie, Mehreen Jabbar.

  8. Shahid Akhtar says:
    July 26th, 2008 12:33 pm

    I was lucky to have seen this movie at The TriBecca Film Festival in New York and really enjoyed it. Nandita and other cast members did a great job, and with Mehreen at the helm, the cinemaotography and the minor intense touches were wonderful to watch. This movie has beautiful scenery and is stunningly picturized. The audience in New York gave it a standing ovation. A must-see movie.

  9. A. Jadoon says:
    July 26th, 2008 1:32 pm

    I will reserve judgement until I actually see the movie, but yes the reviews are good and the topic is a very important one. For too long our two countries have systematically taught our people to distrust each other. Whatever the politics, the lives of ordinary people like this family in the movie gets messed up. So for the topic alone I also am really looking forward to Ramchand Pakistani.

  10. JJ says:
    July 26th, 2008 9:01 pm

    The movie was fantastic. It is a MUST SEE !!!

  11. Shaji says:
    July 26th, 2008 11:45 pm

    Awful trailer. Period. Haven’t seen the movie, so can’t comment on that, but after seeing what Shoaib Mansoor did with KKL, which was yet another disaster, I am not very hopeful.

  12. Uzma Khan says:
    July 27th, 2008 5:48 pm

    I am dying to see the film like all the enthusiastic cinema goers.
    Hope its another drop towards the revival of our cinema after films like Silent Waters, KKL etc.

  13. Kalsoom says:
    July 29th, 2008 3:34 pm

    So glad you highlighted this film, Adil. I’ve been wanting to see it since it debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. I also had a chance to interview the director, Mehreen Jabbar for my website, for all who are interested:

    http://changinguppakistan.wordpress.com/2008/04/24/a-filmmakers-perspective-on-pakistan/

  14. OA says:
    August 1st, 2008 10:32 am

    ‘peaks my curiosity’ –> ‘piques my curiosity’

  15. Haadia says:
    August 2nd, 2008 1:54 am

    I await this film myself. An aunt saw it in Islamabad and she just loved it so very much.

  16. meengla says:
    August 2nd, 2008 7:33 am

    Thank you for bringing this movie to our attention. Indeed, the name ‘Javed Jabbar’ is the major draw for me too. His untiring work in the Thar region of Sindh does not get the recognition it deserves. I wish ATP writes a full length article about his contributions to Pakistani society as well as about ‘Banh Beli’–the organization which is involved in Thar projects.

    So where can the expats watch not only ‘Ramchand Pakistani’ but also ‘Khuda ke Liye’ by PAYING for them? I wish there could be some pay-per-view online service for such movies?

    PS. KKL may be playing to the tune of ‘Anti Jihadis’ sentiments but, by golly, the so-called Jihadis are not far behind in their own PR campaign: Demolish schools for girls and burn CD/music shops.

  17. aleena says:
    August 7th, 2008 4:19 am

    it was an excellent movie!and i know everyone’s gonna like it!
    its the second movie of pk that touched my heart.i loved it!

  18. EnKaY says:
    August 14th, 2008 2:12 pm

    Well i have seen the movie twice – once at the premiere and one few days later. The movie had a personal appeal to movie considering the fact that i have traversed nearly through all areas of Thar. Seeing a movie capturing the “unseen and conveniently ignored” Sindhi Hindu community was awesome.

    Fell in love with Nandita Das again ;)

  19. August 25th, 2008 4:11 am

    i havent seen yet this movie.. but the story seems to be a real story … it is based on reality so i liked the story.. i have read the story only and ……… the most important i like javed jabbar .. the way he teachs he is amazing personality………………..

  20. Daud Malik says:
    August 25th, 2008 7:37 am

    After a decade I entered a cinema — Cinepax — in Rawalpindi, showing a number of movies. I wanted a quiet movie and went for Ramchand Pakistani. It turned out to be a different and appealing movie, with a heavy touch of documentary in it. However, at number of places the film is listless. Perhaps the listlessness is part of such a movie.
    But overall a good movie. It is also a reminder that Pakistan has talented filmmakers, actors, script writers who can pleasantly surprise us from time to time.

  21. Ashoke Chatterjee says:
    October 4th, 2008 1:27 pm

    I have just returned from an Ahmedabad theatre that is screening “Ramchand Pakistani”. What an incredibly powerful film, so wonderfully assembled and performed. I have known and admired Javed Saheb for many years — I had no idea that he had such a marvelously talented daughter. I came home and tried unsuccesfully to call them to say how thrilled and privileged I feel to be able to see “Ramchand” here. It deserves the widest audience, not just in our countries but all over this planet so that one day the Ranchands of this world can walk free. In this city we must do what we can to ensure that its young people have access to this important film. I hope as well that many in Pakistan will have seen it, and good cinema can do whatpoliticians seldom can. And if Javed, Mehreen and the family see this, “Thank you” to you all! Ashoke Chatterjee

  22. Alam says:
    March 5th, 2010 6:55 am

    Yes, overall a good movie, after a long time

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