Friday, August 22, 2008

Khuda Ke Liye

I recently watched Khuda ke liye (For the sake of God), Pakistan's critically (and internationally) acclaimed movie depicting some of the country's deeply entrenched and divisive social issues: religious conservatism vs liberalism, east vs west, men vs women.

Shoaib Mansoor's film almost succeeded in convincing me of its merits but sadly a few things detracted too substantially from the viewing experience.
  1. It reinforces plenty of stereotypes (which may reflect the state of affairs in Pakistan) but I find it hard to accept that there is such a barren middle ground between the wildly polarised ends of manifestation and expression of religious belief. Fanatical religious zealots and unfettered libertines seem to make up the majority of the cast of characters with the odd individual in a state of transition from one state to the other or in denial.
  2. Mary (a second generation Pakistani in the UK who is forced into a marriage in Afghanistan) has the worst Mockney accent in cinematic history. It makes Don Cheadle's accent in Ocean's Eleven, 'the most preposterous Cockney accent since Dick van Dyke' seem like a linguistic masterclass. [Incidentally, Mary's father who dupes her into this awful relationship, leaves the village he has chosen as her prison before wishing her goodbye because the toilet's aren't quite up to scratch!]
  3. It was far, far too long. The point could have been made in at least 60 minutes less time.
  4. The accompanying subtitles were obviously compiled by someone with a working knowledge of neither Urdu nor English. Simply hopeless.

Still, despite these shortcomings, the film bodes well as a harbinger of what's to come from non-Lollywood Pakistani cinema.

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