Pakistani cinema moves out of doldrums Tony Tharakan

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A Pakistani film about Muslims in a post-9/11 world is slated to open in India this month, a rare event considering political rivalry has limited cultural interaction between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Khuda Kay Liye (In the Name of God) focuses on the rift between radical and liberal Islam, an issue that also confronts India’s 140 million Muslims as they fend off charges that the community provides recruits for militant groups.
Director Shoaib Mansoor hopes the Urdu-language film will engage audiences in Hindu- majority India when it opens in cinemas on March 28.
“It is the first Pakistani film in India after several decades, so people should have a natural interest in it,” said the Lahore- based filmmaker.
“India has a very big Muslim population, which should naturally be interested. And non- Muslims would want to know what real Islam is.”
Khuda Kay Liye weaves together three stories: a pop singer who falls under the influence of Islamic extremists, a Briton of Pakistani origin who is forcibly married to her cousin, and a man illegally detained in the United States after the September 11 attacks.
The film features Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah in a cameo role as a Muslim scholar who clarifies the tenets of Islam during a court case.
Pakistan’s film industry has been starved of a natural audience in India owing to political differences and the dominance of Bollywood.
But the success of Khuda Kay Liye since its release in Pakistan in July last year may be a sign that Pakistani cinema is finally emerging from the doldrums.
The film, which received a standing ovation at the International Film Festival of India last year, has arranged premieres in New Delhi and Mumbai.
“After many years, Khuda Kay Liye resulted in packed theatres in Pakistan,” said Mehreen Jabbar, whose film Ramchand Pakistani was screened at the Berlin Film Festival last month.
“It got people talking about the revival of cinema in Pakistan and opened doors to other filmmakers to start thinking again about the possibility of making quality feature films,” said Jabbar. — Reuters
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