Khuda Kay Liye

‘Khuda Kay Liye’ or ‘In the name of God’ is a film that created a history of sorts, being the first Lollywood film to be released in India. Directed by Shoaib Mansoor, the film is an eye opener to the unjustifiable myths and controversies related to the Islamic religion and the Muslims worldwide. The most remarkable aspect of the movie is how incredibly it has differentiated Islam from extremism by focusing on the lives of the characters settled in three different countries. They are brought together when they fall prey to the idiosyncratic beliefs of the fundamentalists. What follows is the true interpretation of religion, actual status of women in Islam, the post 9/11 situation in America and the division between the extremists and liberal Muslims.

Two brothers, Mansoor (Shaan) and Sarmad (Fawad Khan), belonging to a modern, educated family in Pakistan are prolific rock artists, for whom music is the only passion. However, life has something else to bestow upon them, and their dreams are shattered when Sarmad comes in contact with a religious extremist group headed by the fanatic Moulana Tahiri (Rasheed Naz), and is motivated by him to become a ‘True Muslim’. On being brainwashed by the Maulana, Sarmad is convinced that pursuing music and art is against Islam. A major transformation takes place in him, as he gives up music, grows a beard, throws paintings out of his home, and goes to the extreme of telling his mother to start wearing hijaab.

Simultaneously, in U.K, a British-Pakistani girl, Mary (Iman Ali) is in love with a British boy Dave. Her father, who is also an Uncle of Mansoor and Sarmad is against her marriage outside of the religion, though he is himself “living in” with a British lady. When questioned on his hypocrisy, he justifies himself saying that in Islam, men are permitted to have a relationship outside their religion, but women are not. With a determination to find a Pakistani groom for his daughter, he is seen changing colors and makes an empty promise to Mary of getting her married to her beloved, if she accompanies him on his trip to Pakistan. Overwhelmed with joy, Mary agrees, but her world is devastated when she discovers herself getting forcibly married to her cousin Sarmad, who is persuaded by his uncle to do this for the sake of Islam. Dumping his daughter cold-heartedly on a deserted village in Afghanistan, he returns back to the U.K., contented with the thought of having Pakistani descendants. Meanwhile, Mary tries to escape, but Sarmard catches hold of her and eventually rapes her to stop her from running away in future.

The film proceeds as Mansoor goes to America to study music, and marries an American girl Janie, he falls in love with. Before they are about to step into their happily married life, he is mistakenly accused by the Americans of having ties with the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks, only for the reason that he is a Muslim coming from a poor country of Pakistan and living lavishly in America!
All the three actors in the lead role have given impressive performances. Iman Ali makes her debut with this film and looks stunning throughout the movie. Naseeruddin Shah is seen in an outstanding cameo. In the climax, he appears as a Maulvi who clears all the myths related to Islam. Reading verses from the holy Quran, he elucidates how Islamic religion is being exploited by a handful of fanatics as a means to achieve their obscure and warped motives. He explains that neither is Islam anti-women, nor does it talk about abandoning music, art and western attire. Likewise, the concept of Jihad should be advocated as a war to overcome the failings within the human self, rather than as terrorism.

Khuda Kay Liye is the highest grossing movie of Pakistan till date, having made $10 million at the box office. It was honored with many reputed international awards, including the Silver Pyramid Award for the Best Picture at the 31st Cairo Film Festival and the Roberto Rossellini Award by the Italian Film Industry. Being an independent film, it broke the trend of the song and dance numbers, a trademark of the Lollywood films. In India too, the film won tremendous critical acclaim and proved to be successful in creating an impact. The soundtrack is extremely enthralling and contemporary, particularly the number “Bandeya Ho”.

What I personally love about the movie is the way Shoaib Mansoor has portrayed how gullible youngsters like Sarmad, still in their early 20s, are being manipulated by the religious extremists and being provoked to follow Jihad, ‘In the name of God’. The movie certainly comes across well-researched , and what has been shown definitely makes sense out of the existing mayhem. No religion in this world talks about killing innocent people and inflicting cruelty on women. In addition, the plight of the Muslims caught up in America since 9/11 has been depicted with sensitivity. One must watch this movie not only to get the true sense of Islam, but also of humanity.

Kanika Bedi

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