Film: Khuda Kay Liye (Hindi)

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah

Director: Shoaib Mansoor

No man has monopoly over God. And of all the prophets of Allah, four of them had special abilities. The last prophet brought a lasting message for all humanity. Moses could make water gush out of a rock. Prophet Isa could cure leprosy, revive the dead. And Dawood had a voice so beautiful that when he read the Zaboor, birds, animals, men and even the djinns listened in rapt attention.

In this world of diatribes and monologues when was the last time the big screen attempted to clear a few cobwebs about Islam? Yes, there have been politically expedient depictions in films like “Black Hawk Down” and “Munich”, etc. But until Shoaib Mansoor’s film came about, there was not a sane voice on Islam.

Not that Mansoor’s is the last word on faith, but he at least attempts to free the faith from the shackles of the ill read, people ready with fatwas with all their half knowledge of Islam. “Khuda Kay Liye” attempts to take faith beyond the confines of those who equate piety with a beard, a cap and a rosary. Fittingly, Naseeruddin Shah’s character declares, “Deen mein darhi hae, darhi mein deen nahin”. Remember even Abu Jahl had a beard too? It talks of Muslim women’s right to say ‘no’ to marriage, even annul one.

Mansoor’s film is not a sermon the faithful should listen to. Rather it is a dispassionate look at a faith often erroneously equated with terrorism in a bipolar world where a superpower has to raise the bogey of an enemy to justify its military might. It was Communism at one time, it is Islam now.

Mansoor’s story has two Pakistani brothers with a talent for music. They talk of love and longing. But the world around them is singing a different song. There are clerics preaching fundamentalism. Music is haram in Islam, they say. And the younger brother listens, dissociating himself from the two-member music band. Only to head to a society where men decide what is religion and women acquiesce.

The other, chases his dreams, goes to study music in the U.S. Again it is a world where dialogue is no longer the preferred option. Post 9/11 if you have a certain name, hail from certain faith, you are a terrorist, or a possible terrorist.

It is a hard lesson for the guy brought up on lofty notions of freedom and fair play in America: The West’s principles are all sham too. First challenge and the innate insecurities come to the fore. Just like the cleric’s words which are often divorced from practice. It is a storyline many people across the world will identify with.

There are minorities which have to account for the deed of some misguided souls.

There is majority communalism which often passes for nationalism. Mansoor talks of all this and more in a manner most befitting.

As a piece of cinema, his work is adequate without being excellent. As a tool to convey a message, “Khuda Kay Liye” is brilliant..

Z.S.