For a long, long time the film industry attempted to keep us entertained by churning out film after film about victimized Muslims. Thus, It is easy to understand why I was pleasantly surprised when I heard of Ramchand Pakistani, a film from across the border that tells the heart-rending tale of a victimized Hindu. The film presents a strong message elucidating the injustice inherent in the oppression of any single or group of individuals.
The story revolves around the seven year old Ramchand (Syed Fazal Hussain), a poor boy belonging to a Dalit Hindu family residing in a Pakistani village located close to the Indo-Pak border. He, along with his father accidentally stumble across the border and into India, where they are promptly arrested under the suspicion of being spies. The young boy and his father are shipped of to a high security jail in Gujarat, wherein they spend five, long arduous years, rife with torture inflicted upon them for no fault of their own. The narrative of the father-son duo is intricately juxtaposed with the narrative of the plight of Ramchand’s mother Champa (effectively portrayed by Nandita Das) who longs and pines for the return of her husband and child.
With an inherently simple story, director Mehreen Jabbar strikes gold by focusing more on the emotional aspect and the natural human evolution that the child undergoes during his period of strife. The film touches a chord by effectively portraying how two ordinary individuals (the common, innocent man) often gets entwined and caught up in the larger, political issues of two nations that are constantly at loggerheads. The resulting grief, helplessness and frustration are tangible and so is the callousness of the authorities.
The female warden Kamala (Maria Wasti) was another memorable character. The poignant relationship she shares with Ramchand is most intriguing, she despises him for belonging to the Dalit Caste, yet, she is inexplicably fond of him, so much so that she cares for him and grooms him almost like a mother would.
The most heart warming scene of the film is undoubtedly the one in which the little boy vents his frustration and grief upon his pet insect. The dialogue is touching without being overly melodramatic, and the young actor’s impeccable delivery makes it almost impossible to choke back one’s tears. And I’m not afraid to admit, I bawled like a baby while watching this scene. The other actors gave equally stellar performances; Nandita Das breathed life into her otherwise weak character.
The year 2008 has seen a number of intelligent films that deal with communal issues, chief examples being A Wednesday, Mumbai Meri Jaan and the likes. Ramchand Pakistani (despite not being a Bollywood flick) is another edition to this category. The title itself suggests the basic message of the film, a multi-culturism of sorts, and an element of communal harmony. In conclusion, I might add that I’m totally bowled over by both the Pakistani films I have watched off late, Khuda Kay Liye, and Ramchand Pakistani – both left me breathless!!
[Image Source: http://www.planetbollywood.com/Pictures/Posters/ramchand_pakistani.jpg]