Movie Review: Shoaib Mansoor’s ‘Khuda ke liye’

Posted on July 31, 2007
Filed Under >Yasser Latif Hamdani, TV, Movies & Theatre
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Yasser Latif Hamdani

(UPDATE: You can view this movie here).

We had a preview of the movie Khuda Ke Liye at ATP where we had posed a question whether Shoaib Mansoor will be able to revive Pakistan cinema? A probable answer comes from myself who recently got chance to see this movie. The record breaking Pakistani film Khuda Ke Liye has become my favorite film overnight- Hollywood inclusive. Or more accurately I should say, that there hasn’t been a film in the past that has moved and affected me in this way.

Given the standing ovation the film is getting in theatres all over Pakistan from rich and poor alike, one can safely say that I am not the only one. For one thing it is a uniquely Pakistani story, which could have only come out of Pakistan. To sum it up, it is about us – the people of Pakistan warts and all- take it or leave it.

The genius of Shoaib Mansoor was never in doubt for those who have seen his videos or for that matter the famous Alpha Bravo Charlie – the TV Drama on Pakistan Army. What I was unprepared for was the depth in his thought and the way he has managed to capture the Pakistani dilemma on screen. Ours is a complex and rich predicament which needs to be captured in all its nuances and appreciated in all its paradoxical colors. KKL did just that.

I went to the theatre expecting to see the same old liberal v. fundo arguments. There were those, but unlike how these arguments play out in “The Friday Times” and the “Nawai Waqt“, this remarkable film is fully conscious of its Pakistani identity and the strong Islamic component that forms part thereof.

At the risk of spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, this is the story of two brothers, Mansoor (played by Shaan) and Sarmad (played by theatre actor/musician Fawad of EP fame) both musicians, brought in a well to do Pakistani family. Mansoor and Sarmad are torn apart by the latter’s increased involvement with a certain Maulana Taheri (based most probably on Maulana Sami ul Haq of JUI-S component of the MMA), who turns the soft spoken Sarmad into full fledge Jehadi.

Things are complicated when the brothers’ cousin Mary arrives from London to spend a few days with them, only to discover that she has been tricked by her father into coming to Pakistan to avoid her marrying her Non-Muslim boyfriend Dave. Meanwhile Mansoor leaves for Chicago to enrol at the “School of Music” there. In an epic that switches from London to Lahore to Waziristan to Nangahar Afghanistan to Chicago, these ordinary Pakistanis are increasingly faced with both internal and external conflict. And then there is September 11.

Shoaib Mansoor does not miss a beat, he does not leave any stones unturned. While all characters have more or less the same significance in this plot, it is Mansoor who is at the centre of it: Mansoor who is a proud Pakistani and secure in his Muslim identity, Mansoor who warns Sarmad against extremism, Mansoor who puts the best Muslim and Pakistani foot forward, Mansoor who is abducted by FBI in the middle of the night and beaten and tortured to a pulp, humiliated and abused for being a Pakistani and a Muslim. He is the contrast to Sher Shah and Maulana Taheri. But there are contrasts on the other side as well… Jenny who loves Mansoor for being Mansoor, his classmates who spontaneously join in when Mansoor performs his “music from Pakistan”, his African American professor… all stand in contrast to the American torturers of Mansoor.

The dialogue reaches a fever pitch in a court room in Lahore, where Mary is engaged in a prolonged legal battle. Enter the Bollywood star Naseeruddin Shah. He plays the character of a long bearded progressive Islamic scholar (probably based on Maulana Ahmed Javed and Allama Javed Ahmed Ghamidi of Lahore). In what would be the localised version of “Inherit the wind” Courtroom drama, he engages Maulana Taheri and his coterie in an argument on Islamic law and Islamic dress code.

“There is beard in religion, but no religion in beard,”

declares Shah, adding that

“Two men who did the greatest service to Islam in Pakistan, Mahomed Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal, did so without a beard and out of the so called Islamic dresscode, in western dress.”

It was on this line that the entire hall filled with applause. Islam – the universal faith – has no uniform. This lays the stage for the final scene- the most poignant scene of the movie, filmed in Lahore’s beautiful Wazir Khan Mosque– the scene which once again made a Muslim out of me. I’ll let you watch it yourself to understand what I am talking about.
As for the film itself, there seem to be a few technical glitches earlier on but they are easily forgotten. Iman Ali‘s performance as Mary or Maryam in the beginning is annoying and one finds her concocted British accent a little annoying at first. However it grows on you and one discovers the fullness of her effort- which is by far the best I have come across by a Pakistani actress. As for the music, those of you who have only heard Bandaya, you are in for a surprise. The film is as a whole an incredible musical experience. What is more is that you discover how aptly Shoaib Mansoor has placed his music in the various scenes. Indeed, driving back from Lahore on the motorway, I could recount/recollect every scene just by listening to the soundtrack.

This is a movie no Pakistani can afford to miss.

183 responses to “Movie Review: Shoaib Mansoor’s ‘Khuda ke liye’”

  1. The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “No one of you should walk in just one sandal; let him wear both of them or take off both of them.” [Abu Dawud]

  2. Pakistan says:

    Its a very nice movie and i really like the idea of putting the ideology of terrorists and Islamic phenomena .

  3. Many people have denied Ahadith about music citing that it is not in the Holy Quran. The truth is, Allah SWT has mentioned in many places in the the Holy Quran to listen to His Prophet.

    And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy. (3:132)

    Those are the limits set by Allah, and who obeys Allah and His Messenger, He (Allah) will make him enter Gardens (in Paradise) underneath which rivers flow, to abide therein. And that is the great success. (4:13)

    O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from amongst you, then if you have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the (Prophetic) Messenger if you believe in Allah and the Last Day (of Jedgement). That is better and very good in the end. (4:59)

    And who obeys Allah and the Messenger, they will be with those to whom Allah has shown favour, of the Prophets and the Truthful and the Martyrs and the Righteous, and the best of Companions are they! (4:69)

    And the believing (Muslim) men and the believing (Muslim) women are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and they establish regular Prayer and they give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and they obey Allah and His Messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them. Undoubtedly, Allah is Mighty, Wise. (9:71)

    And he who obeys Allah and His Messenger, and has reverential awe of Allah, and keeps his duty (to Him): then these it is that are the successful. (24:52)

    Say (O Beloved Prophet): “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger. But if you turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and you for that placed on you, and if you obey him, you will be rightly guided. And the responsibility of the (Prophetic) Messenger is only to convey (the Message) clearly. (24:54)

    And establish regular Prayer and give the obligatory charity (Zakat) and obey the Messenger, so that mercy may be shown to you (from Allah). (24:56)

    O you who believe! Have reverential awe of Allah and speak the right word. He (Allah) will set right your deeds for you and will forgive you your sins, and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed gained a mighty success. (33:70-71)

    The bedouins say: “We believe”. Say (to them, O beloved Prophet): “You do not (yet) believe, but rather say ‘We have submitted’, for the Faith has not yet entered your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not diminish anything of (the reward of) your deeds. Surely, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    And obey Allah and obey the Messenger; but if you turn away, then (know that) the duty of our Messenger is only to convey (the Message) clearly. (64:12)

    The (true) believers are only those who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and afterward, have never doubted but have struggled with their wealth and their persons in the Way of Allah. It is they who are the truthful. (49:14-15)

    Hadith 1

    Abd Allah Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah said: Verily Allah has forbidden alcohol, gambling, drum and guitar, and every intoxicant is haram (Musnad Ahmad & Sunan Abu Dawud).

    Hadith 2

    Sayyiduna Abu Malik al-Ashari reports that he heard the Messenger of Allah say: There will appear people in my Ummah, who will hold adultery, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be lawful (Sahih al-Bukhari)

    Hadith 3

    Abd Allah ibn Masud reports that the Messenger of Allah said: Song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water makes plants grow (Sunan al-Bayhaqi).

    Hadith 4

    Sayyiduna Ali ibn Talib reports that the blessed Messenger of Allah said: “When my Ummah begin doing fifteen things, they will be inflicted with tribulations, and (from those 15 things He said): “When female singers and musical instruments become common.” (Sunan Tirmidhi)

    Hadith 5

    Na’fi reports that once Abd Allah ibn Umar heard the sound of a Sheppard’s flute. He put his fingers in his ears, turned his mule away from the road and said: “O Nafi’! Can you hear? I (Nafi’) replied with the affirmative. He carried on walking (with his fingers in his ears) until I said: “the sound has ceased” He removed his fingers from his ears, came back on to the road and said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah doing the same when he heard the flute of the Sheppard.” (Abu Dawud,Ibn Majah)

    Hadith 6

    Abu Umama reports that the Messenger of Allah said: “Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded to destroy musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affairs of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance.”(Musnad Ahmad, Abu Dawud)

    Hadith 7

    Sayyiduna Anas (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah said: “On the day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.” (Ibn Asakir, Ibn al-Misri)

    From the Holy Quran

    And there are among men, those that purchase idle tales, to mislead from the path of Allah and throw ridicule. For such there will be a humiliating punishment. (Surah Luqman)

    The great Companion Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (R.A.) states in the explanation of the word “idle tales”: “By Allah its meaning is music.” (Sunan al-Bayhaqi, 1/223 authenticated by al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, 2/411)

    Hasan al-Basri said: “This verse was revealed in relation to singing and musical instruments.” (Tafsir ibn Kathir, 3/442)

    Those who witness no falsehood, and if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honourable avoidance.” (Surah Furqan)

    Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas relates from Imam Abu Hanifah that the meaning of “falsehood (zur)” is music and song. (Ahkam al-Qur’an, 3/428)

    “Lead to destruction those whom you can among them with your voice.” (Surah al-Isra)

    One of the great exegete, Mujahid interpreted the word “voice (sawt)” by music, singing, dancing and idle things. (Ruh al-Ma’ani, 15/111)

    Imam Suyuti (Allah have mercy on him) quoted Mujahid as saying: “Voice (in this verse) is singing and flute.” (al-Iklil fi istinbat al-tanzil, 1444)

    Another exegete, Dahhak also interpreted the word “Sawt” with flutes. (Qurtubi, al-Jami` li Ahkam al-Qur’an, 10/288)

  4. jock says:

    do you really think so?

    I didn’t get that feeling at all (regarding the secularism bit). And the interesting thing about the bearded mullah is that both the Mullahs in the end had long, flowing beards and both were mullahs but they both took different paths….one drew Sarmad away from his family into a dangerous life and the other brought him right back

    The feeling I got was that mullahs are alright…:)

  5. No doubt that movie is marvelous and it has been choreographed beautifully but the arguments presented in this movie are not supported by sound evidences and it looks that the objective of movie is just to put a bad name to bearded Muslims and increase Mullah hatred. The movie is just an attempt to increase Secularism among Muslims.

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