Cinema In General
Pans & Tilts…Khuda Kay Liye, Kahaani Gudiya Ki, Guide…
There was a mood of celebration in India when Shoaib Mansoor’s “Khuda Kay Liye”, (In the Name of God), opened last week. The first Pakistani film to be released in 43 years, it was distributed with 100 prints in as many screens across India. Compare this with 20 prints in Pakistan. The country’s producers would be thrilled that a ban, which came in 1965 following a war between the two neighbours, was finally lifted. Undoubtedly, India is a great market for Pakistani movies. Hindi is a language that is widely understood here, and there is also a large Urdu-speaking segment.
On the other side of the border, Indian movies will screen, and I am told “Race” and “Tare Zameen Par” opened to enthusiastic crowds. In a nation where theatres have been virtually dying for want of films, Indian cinema will be pure oxygen. The once thriving cinema industry at Lahore crumbled after 1947, when much of the talent came away to Bombay. Movies became such a part of this city that it was nicknamed “Maya Nagari” (Magic Town).
“Khuda Kay Liye” is one of the better films that I have seen from Pakistan, though poor production values for a work of this scale, too many artistic liberties that foray into sheer exaggeration and some stilted performances mar an otherwise gripping work. The movie follows the lives of two brothers (played by Shaan and Fawad Khan) who despite their common passion for music choose different paths. One gets sucked into religious fundamentalism, and the other becomes a hapless victim of this.
The message is clear: Islam is progressive, but its interpretation is often twisted, and this twist is conveyed through hypocrisy, deceit and pure evil.
I saw another example of social cinema last week. Prabhakar Shukla’s “Kahaani Gudiya Ki” (The Story of Gudiya), highlights and dramatises the agony of a young Muslim girl in Meerut. When her soldier husband remains missing in the Khargil war for five years, she remarries. A year later, much to her horror, her first husband returns and claims her back. The clergy supports him, caring little about the woman or her emotional well-being or even her pregnant status. The child is born, and she dies a little later of multiple organ failure. The two men who fought for her affection find new wives and abandon the kid.
Shukla’s film, based on a true incident in 2006, has all the weaknesses of a debutant director. It is boringly stagy, too explanatory and lets words cloud visuals. The beauty of cinema is lost. And, what is more important, the work lacks perspective. Naturally, it is too recent.
Vijay Anand’s immortal 1965 “Guide”, one of the movies where Dev Anand was his best, will play at the Classics Section of the renowned Cannes International Film Festival in May. Hyderabad’s Gladstone Technologies will add a dash of colour to this hauntingly beautiful canvas of love and tragedy. “Guide”, based on R.K. Narayan’s novel, gave one of life’s best opportunities to Dev Anand and his leading lady, Waheeda Rehman. I am sure this movie will take the French Riviera by storm with its exceptionally good performances, a classic narrative style and extraordinary music.
Tailpiece: Stuttgart is the sixth largest city in Germany, and it has the sixth sense to understand that Indian cinema is not just Bollywood. Not at all. Every July, they have a film festival that is called, Bollywood and Beyond. I am told some of the choicest Indian movies are shown there enthralling local Germans. This year, I hope to be there to catch this great response and reaction first hand!
(Webposted April 10 2008)