Khuda Kay Liye: Will Shoaib Mansoor Be Able To Revive Pakistan Cinema?

Posted on July 17, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Society, TV, Movies & Theatre
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Film Poster for Khuda Kay LiyeAdil Najam

(UPDATE: You can view this movie here).

Shaib Mansoor’s feature film Khuda Kay Liye: In The Name of God is to be released in Pakistan on July 20, 2007. There is great buzz about it; as there should be.

Regular readers know how much respect, even reverance, I have for Shoaib’s work. For me he is one of the single most talented Pakistanis I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Indeed, one of the single most talented Pakistanis ever.

As we have written before, he may also be the single most under-rated Pakistani artist, since his contribution to TV music, to TV drama, to TV comedy, TV stage shows and to popular music remains unknown to many; too many.

I have not seen the movie myself yet and have been hearing about it from a number of people – including some directly involved – for quite some while. The promo clips are now available on YouTube and – no surprise – the quality of cinematography, of artistic composition, of music, of attention to detail all look great. Typical Shoaib Mansoor. Of course, how the whole package comes across remains to be seen. This is, of course, his first feature film but he is already a master of each of the genres in a movie and his long plays (like Alpha, Bravo, Charlie) must have trained him well for this.

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To me, of course, the story is Shoaib Mansoor. For others, however, there are other draws. The cast includes Lollywood superstar Shaan, Bollywood maestro Naseeruddin Shah, Iman Ali (who is PTV’s Abid Ali’s daughter and was in Shoaib’s Anarkali music video), and other notables. But the real story here is the story. Or, rather, the topic of the story.

Khuda Kay Liye CastKhuda Kay Liye CastKhuda Kay Liye Cast
Khuda Kay Liye CastKhuda Kay Liye CastKhuda Kay Liye Cast

The film has a wonderful and wonderfully rich website, and according to the synopsis posted there:

The film is about the difficult situation in which the Pakistanis in particular and the Muslims in general are caught up since 9/11. There is a war going on between the Fundamentalists and the Liberal Muslims. This situation is creating a drift not only between the Western world and the Muslims, but also within the Muslims. The educated and modern Muslims are in a difficult situation because of their approach towards life and their western attire. They are criticized and harassed by the fundamentalists and on the other hand the Western world sees them as potential suspects of terrorism just because of their Muslim names. This paradox is resulting in great suffering for a forward looking Muslim.

This paradox of the divided society is, of course, a constant theme of ATP too. It is always a controversial subject here and will be much much more controversial for Khuda Kay Liye. It is, despite the controversy, a topic that we as a society have to confront. Thoughtfully and seriously. Since I have not seen the movie I cannot say how he has treated the subject, but based on his track record if there is anyone who has the ability to deal with this difficult issue sensitively and without turning things into slogans, it is Shoaib Mansoor. All the more reason to watch the movie and refrain from judging it in advance.


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But there is another important angle to this too. GEO is promoting the movie as a ‘revival’ of Pakistan cinema. As a long time fan of Pakistani cinema, I certainly hope it is. Again, if anyone can do this, Shoaib Mansoor can.

I saw a post today in Metroblog Lahore that made me think that he just might. It was not about this movie, but about a new very modern movie house opening in Lahore. I have long believed that the reason Pakistani cinema declined is not just because of the movies, but also because of the state of movie houses. Well, this new theatre – the DHA Cinema – is quite something.

DHA Cinema LahoreDHA Cinema Lahore

With tickets at Rs. 250 and Rs. 500 it may be pricy, but from the pictures at the site, it is clearly something that could attract a lot of people simply for the theatre experience. Interestingly, this theater also opens on July 20, and one of the movies it is opening with is Khuda Kay Liye. Coincidence? Probably not.


I must confess that I have been planning to write this post for nearly two weeks now. I had originally thought of calling it something like ‘The Other Lal Masjid Story’ simply because Abdul Rashid Ghazi had taken an interest in this movie. According to Daily Times (July 3, 2007):

Abdul Rashid GhaziLal Masjid has demanded a ban on a yet-to-be released movie, Khuda Kay Liye, declaring it blasphemous… “The film is against Islamic norms and traditions and is being released on a private TV channel without prior approval from a censor board. We won’t allow this,â€? said Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the Lal Masjid deputy mullah, who did not mention his source of information about the movie. He said he would not object to the movie if ulema approved it. He demanded that the government form a board to review the film. “The government will be held responsible if the film is released without being censored,â€? he said.

I had not understood then, nor understand now, whether his source of objection was the subject matter, the fact that it has an Indian actor in it, or a statement of support for the Censor Board. I guess we will never really know. I do know, however, that it is bound to be controversial for same for at least two of those reasons. As for myself, I will reserve my judgement until after I see the movie. But anything from Shoaib Mansoor, and anything on this subject, I do want to see.

211 responses to “Khuda Kay Liye: Will Shoaib Mansoor Be Able To Revive Pakistan Cinema?”

  1. Ali Dada says:

    “The educated and modern Muslims are in a difficult situation because of their approach towards life and their western attire”.

    The above mentioned statement in the description of this movie shows the underlying garbage contained in it. Lots of profited from making a circus out of muslims in the media and Shoaib Mansoor is no exception to that rule.

  2. Ranjan says:

    I congratulate Shoaib Mansoor and Pakistan film Industry Lollywood for making such an effort, I always had desire of watching the progress of my neighbourhood industry, as then my neighbour, my brother will be progressing. I think this film has made a start of revolution atleast in the minds of people living in and outside Pakistan, either belonging to or having any relation to Pakistan. This film and Bollywood film, “Black & White” have released very near to each other and somehow touches each other on some messages like of changing the minds of people of present age and their thoughts who have gone against Muslims especially of Pakistan and of Afganistan. The time has changed and soon media and these sorts of films will bring a right revolution.

    I must congratulate Shoaib mansoor on presenting such an art, heart touching film and a big big film with so many locations, actors and messages.

  3. Zafar Syed says:

    I saw the movie in an empty theater in the US a couple of months ago and have somewhat mixed feelings about it.

    Yes, I know that SM wanted to convey a message, but while watching the movie one sometimes feels that the art suffers under the burden of the message.

    The foremost example is the court scene towards the end of the film, where Naseeruddin Shah delivers a looong lecture on the legality of music in Islam (I hear that that part was expunged from the movie shown in Pakistan, as well as — quite obviously — some scenes with strong language). It could be a good propaganda but it hardly improves the movie or even helps promote the story line.

    Having said that, I think it was a commendable effort on part of Shoman and I hope that the effort would be emulated by others in Lollywood.


  4. saima bajwa says:

    i have to congradulate Mr. mansoor on presenting this marvalous movie, it was an eye opener for lots of people residing in different parts of the world. it potrayed the true picture of a young muslim living in pakistan and living abroad and struggles they had to endure during and after the events of 9/11. you made us proud Mr Mansoor may allah have his blessings on you. ameen.

  5. adil says:

    without going into the depth of this movie i would praise shoaib’s try. its so rhythmic and continual that it touches heart. if these things that are a matter of confusion will be revealed by our directors than many problems can be solved and society can be in more comfort and this is been done throughout the world. perhaps our govt think over this inspite of LAL MASJID, WAZIRISTAN etc

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