October 17, 2006

'The War Within'


Ayad Akhtar's movie 'The War Within' is a sensitive portrayal of Pakistanis living abroad in a post 9/11 world. The story revolves around a young Pakistani engineer studying in France whose life of normalcy comes to a screeching halt the day he's picked up as a suspect by American Intelligence and taken back to his native country, Pakistan, for interrogation. What follows is a heart rending, at times excruciatingly violent and graphic, depiction of how this normal protagonist is driven to near-lunacy and fanaticism.

A thought provoking film no doubt, but oftentimes logic-defying. For instance, how does a person just disappear off the radar for an extended period of time without anyone, not even his family, making inquiries about him? Akhtar, while trying to project the plight of ordinary immigrant Pakistanis, does get a little carried away in that he demonizes various American organizations that are but doing their duty. The USA Police is one such victim; they are presented as a bunch of non-thinking individuals who are blatantly racist. However, while dealing with the 9 year old Pakistani boy Akhtar has excelled. He's done a splendid job of capturing the impact of terrorism and its aftermath on this young mind. The viewer, regardless of his affiliations, is affronted at the quick and cruel end, almost a snatching away, of the boy's childhood.

It is said that an artistic creation usually carries a message, and I wondered about the message in "The War Within". Does it transcend the barriers of color, religion, and race, or is the message relegated to the perpetrators and the victims of 9/11? Does Akhtar's movie condone what the protagonist did? Is a terrorist born, or is he made? Who or what facilitates the making of one? I have not been able to find any clear-cut answers to any of these questions, but watching the movie I got the impression that Akhtar had.

7 comments:

Sharique said...

No one is a born killer, its the circumstances that make him..you know this victimized feeling..i have been writing a lot about this victimized feeling..check out 'x and me' posts

Id it is said...

sharique,
Thanks for directing me to your post. I see what you're saying, but I still feel, we have the ability within us to 'move on', and we should whenever there's the slightest window of opportunity. If not, then the feeling of victimization takes control and prevents us from making rational choices.
This is just another perspective, and it's not my final one either, hehe

Sharique said...

Hmm..i know but then these feeling come automatically and one has absolutely no control. Its only after you have been through it, you realise the mistake and how misguided you were...human nature you see..can't help :)

Anonymous said...

Good review, I had read abotut his movie at some other place too.

Teri said...

Good review - I'll add the movie to me "gonna see it someday" list.

EXSENO said...

Now you have me curious and I want to see it.
I think both are possibilities. I think we have all realized long ago that some people can be propagandized into becoming something they didn't start out to be and I also think that some people are simply born demented and cruel. I do not believe that in every single case of some serial killer or pervert that some cruel act had happened to them.

starry nights said...

I dont think a terrorist is born, they are made. I would love to see this movie.