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Sunday, January 23, 2022

On the green side of the fence


"Khuda ke liye", the first ever Pakistani movie to be released in India, tried restoring people''s faith in probably the most misunderstood religion across the world. Swati Hora talks to its writer-director, Shoaib Mansoor.
Issue Dated: January 4, 2009
Tags : Khuda ke liye | Swati Hora | Shoaib Mansoor | psychological | Vital Science | un-Islamic | Pakistani film industry | Japan | Italy | Cairo | Oman | religious clerics | Lollywood | issue-based | radical clerics | South Asia | commercial film | Naseeruddin Shah |
On the green side of the fence What led you to make the movie "Khuda Ke Liye"?

It has a lot of my personal experience, some psychological and some solid. I love music. I started my music career in the 80s with our band Vital Science. The lead singer of the band was one of my closest friends. We were together for 17 years. But suddenly he got misdirected and started thinking that music is un-Islamic. He didn’t stop at that. He started appearing in public and spoke against music. That’s when I chose to make this movie because he had no right to mislead the young.

"Khuda Ke Liye" was also aimed at reviving the Pakistani film industry. Have you observed any changes in the industry that followed the film's release?

Though one of the aims of making "Khuda Ke Liye" (KKL) was to take a step in reviving the film industry of Pakistan, I was also sure that one movie cannot possibly accomplish such a task. This is exactly what has happened. Besides, succeeding in KKL has not been able to revive cinema in Pakistan, because KKL, or any film for that matter, could not possibly alone accomplish that.

Any award received or criticism faced after the release of the movie?

Either I have been lucky or the critics in 2008, while watching my movie, were trying to catch up on all the sleep they lost in 2007! Whatever be the reason, the result has been quite good. KKL, till now, has won several international awards…in Japan, Italy, Cairo, Oman, and Singapore, besides four awards at the domestic level. Again, luckily, all the criticism that came my way was before the release of the film when many religious clerics criticised it, without watching the film, based upon its press publicity. After the release, the response of cinema goers was so tremendous that the clerics decided to leave me alone! On the green side of the fence Do you see Lollywood becoming better in the near future? Who in the Pakistani film industry do you think is making a difference and will leave a mark?

I am positive that we don’t lack in talent, therefore, the future is by all means bright. But, unfortunately, I can’t be optimistic about the near future since conditions here are not suitable right now for the newcomers. There are no Urdu films being made; no financiers are interested; those who can make a difference, and have both talent and money, are not brave enough to take a risk. As far as I am concerned, I have decided to stick to film making and will keep trying to contribute whatever is within my capability.

"Khuda Ke Liye" was an issue-based movie that educated the world. Which are the other cultural aspects of Islam (misunderstood or otherwise), apart from music, that you feel need to be addressed?

Islam, or any religion for that matter, does not promote anything based on injustice and inequality. It is unfortunate that the followers of all religions become followers of the radical clerics and thus hatred, injustice, and inequality takes roots in the society. It is true for Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews…everyone. In countries like Pakistan, the biggest problem is that our religious clerics are not ready to differentiate between religion and culture. This can only be solved with education…whenever that will come. In my opinion, the treatment of women by men is the biggest issue in the whole of South Asia that needs to be addressed.

India is a big market plagued with similar issues and problems. Do you plan to come to Bollywood and work with the actors over here? Who are the Bollywood actors/actresses whose work you admire? Any Bollywood movie that you like?

I would only want to do one or two movies in India because my aim is to improve the industry in my own country. Even the one or two movies that I would do in India will have the objective to improve conditions in Pakistan. I am positive that making a good film in India is going to help my efforts remarkably at the local level to revive cinema. Aamir Khan is one person I appreciate the most. He is trying to break the formula of commercial film making in India. I think it is commendable. SRK has his own place that cannot be denied. The position he holds, not only in India, but in many other countries, makes him a true King. Besides these two front runners who are 'hero' material, there are several other great actors. One that I cannot avoid mentioning is Naseeruddin Shah. He has inspired me immensely, not only by his acting talent, but also by his commitment towards the right cause. I really don’t have the words to pay a tribute to him. He is an artist in the true sense of the word…highly talented and extremely sensitive.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017