The biggest movie since Titanic…in Pakistan

One of the Christian Science Monitor’s reporters recently caught a showing of the apparently eagerly awaited film “Khuda ke Liye (In the Name of God)” in Lahore:

Why would I drive 4-1/2 hours to see a Pakistani movie?…

The film is being hailed in some segments of Pakistani society as the most important cinematic event in memory…

As the title suggests, the movie is about Islam and the battle between two polarized groups – modernized elites carrying the banner of “enlightened moderation” and radicals with their “jihad” – both had claims to the religion…

For many Pakistanis – or at least those in this theater – the movie offers an explanation for the unrest around them.

“I had been dying to see this movie,” Sara Malik, a 17-year-old student, dressed in jeans and a powder-pink T-shirt told me after the movie. “It’s an amazing story, because it explains what really happens behind things like the Lal Masjid [Red Mosque],” she said, with nods of agreement by nearby school friends. The violent weeklong battle between religious militants and the Pakistan Army this month in Islamabad was unnerving for the entire country and unlike anything the youth of the country had ever witnessed. [Link]


p>A synopsis of the movie, about musician brothers caught up in a post September 11th world, can be found on the film’s website. Adding to the local relevancy of the film (as mentioned by the young woman above) was the recent Lal Masjid siege (a.k.a. Operation Sunrise) against the militant Ghazi brothers:

Abdul Rashid Ghazi of the Red Mosque, for example, made one of his last anti-vice stands against the release of “In the Name of God.” Mr. Ghazi called the movie blasphemous and anti-Islamic. “We won’t allow this,” he warned the government earlier this month.

Ghazi was killed a few days after uttering those words at the hands of the Pakistani military, and the movie is now showing all over the Punjab province, the Pakistan Army’s stronghold, in the city of Karachi the financial capital, and a few well-to-do surrounding towns in Sindh. It is unlikely to make its way west to the provinces bordering Afghanistan and Iran. The uncensored movie is not only likely to be rejected by the provincial governments led by Islamist parties, but also by the Pashtun and Baluchi tribes themselves, who are portrayed as violent, cunning, and chauvinistic religious fanatics in the movie. [Link]


p>If any SM readers end up seeing the movie please let us know what you think and if it accurately captures the mood in Pakistan. I also wanted to point out that the soundtrack sounds pretty damn good…as you’d expect from a movie about musicians. In fact, director Shoaib Mansoor says the inspiration for the movie came from the real life band “Vital Signs“:

The inspiration for the movie, Mr. Mansoor writes, came from Junaid Jamshed, the former lead singer for Pakistan’s most successful rock band, Vital Signs. Like the lead character in the movie, Mr. Jamshed turned from rock star to mullah after 2001.

Jamshed was once a joyous icon for the Western-looking youth of the 1980s, after the Soviet-Afghan War and the Islamic military rule of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq came to an end. But six years ago, he turned a corner and quickly became one of the most high-profile Islamic preachers associated with the Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary group that spans the globe. [Link]



18 thoughts on “The biggest movie since Titanic…in Pakistan

  1. Thanks for the info and it looks interesting. Naseeruddin Shah as a fanatic mullah!! Since I’m a movie buff, I’ll keep an eye out for it. If it is banned in Pakistan, it’ll probably do the rounds in indie/foreign cinemas in the US.

  2. I know of this group Vital Signs…they had one famous song/video that I knew of (linked to here) ,that extolled the beauties of a fair-skinned woman. The video is interesting because it shows the Kalash of Pakistan, a group who is still not Muslim and holds on to its own indigenous beliefs. Anyway, I can’t believe their lead singer became a Mullah. That’s surprising.

  3. Being banned in all of PK seems unikely:

    From the CSM article:

    Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf reportedly had the first private screening of the movie right here. He supposedly became an instant fan, and he has seen it twice since. After seeing it, I understood why a movie patronized by the president could also play across the country to packed halls without ever having to go through the strict and powerful state censor board.

  4. I woul like to have y own religion. runa ountry, and arbitrarilty decide whats heresy, and therefore illegal. that sounds like a fun scam.

  5. So happy to hear of this movie and look forward to checking it out myself when I get the chance.

  6. Thanks for the info on this movie. Amitabh: thanks for the link to video by Vital Signs. Really enjoyed watching that song during my lunch break.

  7. Re: 8

    Finally a movie that will amplify the moderate Muslim voice! Now all we need is a moderate Muslim leader.

    There have been a number of moderate Muslim leaders in the country on the non-Pakistani side of India. Not all of them were necessarily honest or incorruptible, but moderate Muslim leaders nevertheless.

  8. As long as we are talking about movie portrayals of moderate vs. non-moderate Muslims, I presume most you have seen My Son the Fanatic based on Hanif Kureishi’s short story, right?

  9. the best-ever pakistani movies come from the pashto film industry. anyone who’s unfamiliar with this genre, which had its heyday 20 years ago, is in for a treat. fat ladies in spandex! men dressed up in bear suits! whoever directed and produced these movies makes john waters look like a boy scout. these are the funniest–and in some ways, the most surprising–movies on earth. sadly, the censorship-prone nwfp government has done its best to ban them, but they’re still available on dvd in pakistan. here’s a review of a pashto film classic, haseena atom bomb (its star ran unsuccessfully for parliament a decade ago), courtesy of the hot spot in islamabad:

  10. The level of deprivation on this site!!, you didn’t think that Pakistan had a viable film industry?? Punjabi films were the best, Maula Jatt is the epitome of the genre, a true action movie pind style. To get a flavour I offer up the following for your delectation, Fifty-Fifty a pakistani comedy sketch show did a spoof of the genre called bashirah in trouble. Class

  11. Shaad @ 12 said:

    As long as we are talking about movie portrayals of moderate vs. non-moderate Muslims, I presume most you have seen My Son the Fanatic based on Hanif Kureishi’s short story, right?

    Great film, even greater story. I love the last line, “So, who’s the fanatic now?” It’s a pertinent question for some of the market fundamentalists on this site (and beyond), also.

  12. Amitabh: thanks for the link to video by Vital Signs. Really enjoyed watching that song during my lunch break.

    I second that– great video! Everyone in the movie is very pretty, quite gorgeous, I must say, in fact quite viable, in a silwer screen sense, if you know what I mean.

  13. vhat is happening to our transliterati — “kay liye”?. Am I supposed to put my oh-so-post-colonial-hegemon-loving twang to it?

  14. this movie one of da best movie not only in pakistan but in sub-continent.we need this kind of movies.n pakisatni film industory relly doing a great job.n everyone in da movie so beautiful.