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An Indian’s Review of Pakistani Movie Khuda Kay Liye

by Pranava Pakala (India)

Movies are one of the most popular forms of entertainment today. They shape and influence public opinion in more ways than one. The film industry is a major contributor to the South Asian Economy and undoubtedly, South Asia produces the most number of films each year. Today, with the ever increasing exchange of talent between both the countries of India and Pakistan, films are what unite us.

Khuda Kay Liye proved to be a turning point for the Pakistani film industry. It won numerous accolades for beautifully showcasing sensitive issues affecting South Asia. It is a thought provoking movie touching upon a plethora of issues which are of immense importance globally. Broadly, it focusses on how common man can be misled by those who interpret religion in an orthodox way. It discusses specifically region centric issues like forced marriages (which are predominant in the Indian Subcontinent). We have come across numerous cases in the diaspora (both Indian and Pakistani) where foreign born girls are forcefully married off to men back in their homelands. They face difficulties in adapting to the conservative cultures back home and are often ostracised by their communities. Some accept their fate , the resilient ones fight it. Forced Marriages and Honour Killings are a sad reality in this part of the world. I believe that religious conservativism is the root cause of these practices. Religion is supposed to bring people together in a positive way to influence change but the grim reality today is that religion is being used to influence youngsters into violence and hatred. Young impressionable minds are lured into this menace on the promise of “Jannah”. We see something similar in the case of one of the characters in the film, Sarmad. He is a music loving, jeans wearing youth who is misguided by a Mullah with Salafist leanings. Today, most of the religious men concentrate less on reciting the sermon and more on the political aspect of it. Understandably, the latter seems more interesting and comprehensible to youngsters. For the mullahs, this is perhaps the only way to make the religion seem more relevant to the youth who are moving away from it. But, they end up giving the wrong picture and misguide these young people who start believing this form of the religion. This film hits the bull’s eye there . Maryam, one of the characters in the film who is forcefully married off to her cousin is brazen and bold. She has the strength and courage to go to the Court to fight for justice in a country where few stand up against the statusquo.  In the film, Maulana Wali is a ray of hope who explains to the court how religion is being wrongly interpreted by these self styled clerics who incessantly radicalise thousands of youngsters into the futile “jihad”. He vociferously quotes the religious texts like the Quran and the Hadiths to support his stance. The Quran gives more freedom to women than men. It clearly states that a women is free to choose her spouse and only she has the final say. He further goes on to say that these clerics have deduced twisted connotations from these texts to suppress women.

One of my greatest learnings from this movie is the fact that no religion preaches violence or hatred of any form. Religion is the most exploited and the most convenient excuse that people use for their personal benefit. It is also very important to separate our daily lives from religion or spirituality. It is one of the most personal things and wearing one’s faith on their sleeve doesn’t make them any more of a believer. The movie, through Mansoor’s character made a moving portrayal of how misconceptions about the religion can lead to life altering circumstances. Post 9/11 , America started a policy of indiscriminate racial screening of Muslims. Common law abiding people like Mansoor became a victim of this policy and were tortured and put through unspeakable things. Though the portrayal is hyperbolic, yet it does a fairly good job in putting forth the reality.

I feel the movie is very relevant to today’s social context. We are living in an era where religious extremism is a menace ruining lives. Overall, the movie makes an effort to remove misconceptions that people, in general have about South Asians. This movie does a fairly good job in highlighting the fact that Indians and Pakistanis have almost similar cultures, practices, way of thought , etc. and that the LOC is just a physical border demarcating us.

 Pranava Pakala has completed high school this year. She has been a keen reader of non fictional works on South Asia and the Middle East. She can be contacted on

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