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                 On hearing the title of movie ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ the first thing that strikes one’s mind is that the movie might be about the cruelties faced by the subject and their appeal for mercy. But after watching the movie, one gives up the literal meaning of the name “Khuda Kay Liye” because it shows a different version of Islam and the Muslims and negates the western misperception about Islam and Muslims.

Khuda Kay Liye was released on July 20, 2007. It cast Shaan as Mansoor, Fawad Afzal Khan as Sarmad, Iman Ali as Maryam/Mary, Naseeruddin Shah as Maulana Wali, Austin Marie Sayre as Janie, Rasheed Naz as Maulana Tahiri, Simi Raheal as Mother of Mansoor & Sarmad, Hameed Sheikh as Sher Shah under the amazing direction of Shoaib Mansoor. It is the second highest grossing movie of Pakistan of all time with a gross of over $10 million. The movie’s success can be estimated by the fact that it won “Best film” awards in Lux Style Awards 2008, Roberto Rossellini Awards and Fukuoka Audience Awards (Khuda).

                             The nucleus of the movie is a message portraying a moderate and enlightened version of Islam which suits to the contemporary secularized and modernized world. Although this new version of Islam is a bit controversial especially if we see it through the lens of Pakistani traditional Islamic society but overall the movie appeals to a vast and diverse audience across the globe.

            The movie is a story of two brothers, Mansoor and Sarmad, both musicians, brought up in a well to do Pakistani family. Mansoor and Sarmad are torn apart by latter’s increased involvement with a certain Maulana Tahiri, who turns the soft spoken Sarmad into a Jihadi. Things become more complex when the brother’s cousin arrives from London to spend a few days with them, who is later forcefully married to Sarmad to avoid her marriage from a non-Muslim boyfriend by her hypocritical father. Meanwhile, Mansoor leaves for Chicago to enrol at the “School of Music”. Then there happens to be September 11 attacks and Mansoor is detained on the grounds of being Muslim by the US authorities who beat and torture him to elicit a confession of his role in terrorism. In an epic that switches from London to Lahore to Waziristan to Nangahar to Chicago, these ordinary people are traced with both internal and external conflicts (Hamdani).

The movie highlights the difficult situations faced by the Muslims in United States after the September 11 attacks. It shows how the innocent people were detained by the U.S. authorities and how they were physically and mentally tortured and forced to confess their involvement in the attacks (Patenik2).

              The movie also criticizes the fundamentalist version of Islam represented by the extremist Mullahs. These Mullahs present Islam as an orthodox religion that denies women with their rights and treat music and art as haram (Kazmi).

                  The movie has taken a negative approach towards the Pukhtoon culture and has shown their culture to be anti-women. The movie also highlights that most of the people involved in the terrorist activities comprise of the Pakhtoons (Karim).

The movie has been successful in highlighting the cultural homogeneity that exists between the people of different countries. The people of different countries are shown to be valuing faith, love and peace rather than religion or nationality.

            The movie has also shown the building relation between Islam and the west. It shows that the social and cultural differences between Muslims and the west are decreasing day by day. It also shows that Muslims have a positive thinking towards the people of the U.S. but negative thinking towards their policies (Haseem).

Although, the movie ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ has drawn the attention of its audience towards many subjects of the Muslim world, yet the main emphasis of the movie has been on the clash of ideology between two strains of Islam, the fundamentalist version and the liberal version. The movie has very intelligently shown the real face of the fundamentalist Muslims and their role played to brainwash the innocent liberal Muslims to turn them into the Muslims of their own type. The movie cast Maulana Tahiri as a fundamentalist Muslim leader who interprets Islam as an orthodox religion that denies women their rights and treats music and art as ‘haram’. Maulana starts preaching Sarmad the rites of islam. Steadily, Sarmad begins to change - much to his family’s consternation. He leaves music, grows a beard, takes off pictures from the walls of his house and tries to persuade his mother to wear Hijab.(Maliha).Maulana after making Sarmad leave the music convinces him to marry her cousin, as an act of good by stopping his Muslim cousin to marry her Christian friend. Sarmad was even made to involve in the terrorist activities that was named as jihad by the fundamentalist Maulana. The movie sketches the true picture of hatred that lie in the heart of Muslims against the people and authorities of U.S. It cast a scene where the religious leader in a religious meeting urges his followers against the U.S authorities and instructs them to pull out the weapons to fight against the authorities for the betterment of Islam. This type of scene seems obvious in the real world especially after the September 11 attacks. The movie, on the other hand, casts Maulana Wali, a liberal Muslim who beats the fundamentalists at their own game. Quoting extensively from religious texts, Maulana Wali proves that Islam is neither anti-woman nor does it frown upon music, art and culture. More importantly, it espouses the concept of jihad as a war to overcome the failings within the fallible human self rather than as a synonym for terror. (Kazmi)

                            Khuda Kay Liye isn’t merely a powerful story; it’s a movie of fine performances, a great music score and sophisticated production values. It is the biggest block-buster of Pakistan film industry and no movie moved Pakistani people intellectually, politically, or religiously like this movie. The director Shoaib Mansoor deserves a standing ovation to firstly dare to make such a film being a resident of Pakistan and secondly for changing our perception about Pakistani cinema being low budget, mediocre quality flicks. It is no doubt that the movie addresses a controversial topic and is subjected to harsh criticism but it attempts to make Muslims aware of how Islam is misconstrued in order to validate a number of ugly, inhuman crimes and how the Muslims suffered post the September 11 attacks. The success of the movie is clear from the positive response from the audience all over the globe.

Written By Rao Shahbaz Hassan

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