December 01, 2008

Mehreen Jabbar's "Ramchand Pakistani" - A Truth, Touchingly Told!


It was ironic that I happened to watch the movie "Ramchand Pakistani" the evening before the tragic events unfolded in Mumbai last week. In the light of which, the following comment of Javed Jabbar, the movie's writer-producer, carried special meaning for me:“While the story is very sharply drawn in a political context of extreme polarisation, what it attempts to do is to project the unifying human dimension.” These words gain further significance when tensions appear to be escalating between the two nuclear nations in the aftermath of Mumbai's terrorist attack.

A year or so ago a visitor on my blog recommended the movie 'Ramchand Pakistani' as a must- see movie made by a Pakistani filmmaker, and I'm glad I took his advice. Mehreen Jabbar has made a movie that both warms and shocks the heart . Based on a real event, the movie captures the travails of an accidental and unusual intruder into 'enemy' territory. Jabbar manages to raise some essential questions about how and why national borders heighten and highlight individual differences which would otherwise go unnoticed. The land on this side of the border is no different from what lies on the other side, and accordingly the people living on either side of it have adapted to its peculiarities. This adaptation would normally make people connect, but in this case the border patrol and the white stone demarcations between India and Pakistan ensure that this connect never happens. It is against this backdrop that Jabbar's unusual protagonist steps in as the intruder who accidentally ventures onto the 'other side'. What unfolds is a series of events presented with utmost sincerity and simplicity, and it is to the credit of the cast, Rashid Farooqui, Nandita Das, Usmaan Abbasi, and Navaid Jabbar, that despite the matter-of-fact narrative, the viewer often has a catch in his throat watching helpless innocents fall prey to the senseless and insensitive mandates of politicking.

Watching this movie reminded me of a 20 minute documentary I had watched some time ago titled "The Little Terrorist", and I want to believe that both these movies are based on that same true life event that happened during the Kargil standoff. "The Little Terrorist" was a telling comment on the ludicrousness of border disputes between two countries that are home to a people sharing a long and glorious history together, and are therefore culturally akin in their lifestyles especially in their passion for Cricket. "Ramchand Pakistani", takes that affinity a step further and poignantly lays out that 'closeness' of the two people as Ramchand, the accidental intruder, finds himself imprisoned on the other side of the border.

22 comments:

Saadia said...

Interesting review, Id. The movie highlights an issue of great importance for both India and Pakistan (there are so many cases of such abductions by authorities on both sides), and it is, therefore, a noble effort. I was, however, utterly disappointed because the movie didn't entertain. It lacked creativity. It lacked suspense.

An interesting incident: Movies made in the sub-continent always carry an intermission (a break of about 10-15 minutes) half-way through. These are points of climax usually. When Ramchand Pakistani ended, it was so abrupt that I actually thought it was an intermission; I got up to get popcorn, and voila, the credits started showing!

Pakistani cinema is witnessing something of a revival at present. So I would strongly recommend 'Khuda Ke Liye', if you haven't watched it as yet. It deals with the impact of 9/11, on average Muslims - both here and in the U.S. Not to be missed. Its been no less than a phenomenon here, not to mention, the amazing soundtrack!

Saadia said...

P.S. I can even parcel the DVD your way if you'd like.

Id it is said...

Saadia,
Thanks! Actually it was Khuda Ke Liye that I posted on after which I had a visitor who recommended I see Ramchand Pakistani. You may want to read my post on the formerat:

http://iditis.blogspot.com/2008/06/khuda-ke-liye.html

starry nights said...

interesting,must see t.thanks for the review.

human being said...

borders
are like orders
we tend to defy them...
:)

enjoyed reading your review, Id...

D said...

III..sorry for deviating. But the line that India and Pak are two nuclear nations is in fact a misnomer.

India may have signed a N-deal with USA, but i seriously don't think that the country has the adequate WMDs to strike a country like China or any ICBM (continetal missiles) enabled WMD. Even if it has, the no-first-attack policy bounds the government to some extent. Besides India is much mature nation to indulge in such extravagance at any point of time puting its now sluggish economy at stake.

Pakistan for that matter, seems like have borrowed a few fission devices from China and showed the world that it matches India by exploding them. I seriously doubt if they have WMDs anymore than what was found in Iraq. However, with their top scientist, being a part of the terrorist chain which tried to get the WMD blueprint selling to N Korea, it is desirable that US should excercise its cotrol over whatsoever they have because the failed-state may casue a few sleepless nights in Jersulaem, Washington, London (PS - people in Delhi and Mumbai don't sleep now).

Why am saying this? Becoz stating nuclear nations unnecessarily heighten the tension between the two states and make the world at large panic that any small skirmish between the two may end up in N-war.

Well, nobody here foresee that happening, except a few elites who live om misconstrued facts, some developed by themselves other borrowed.

I think if the West can do away with this N-tag to the neigbouring countries and take it easy, India will be able to solve a few issues including Kashmir issue - By peace or power.

Saadia said...

Outbursts like these are what the terrorists want. To frustrate people. To pit them against each other. I will not react like you have - either here or on my blog.

Id it is said...

Saadia,
I'm afraid I don't understand: "Outbursts like these are what the terrorists want...I will not react like you have - either here or on my blog."

Saadia said...

Sorry for the misunderstanding. That comment was actually a response to D's above. He and other Indian friends have been talking too much about how much things are wrong with Pakistan. Now while all analysts have absolved the Pakistani government of direct involvement, I think it is only fair for both India and Pakistan to cooperate and focus on internal security issues. While dealing with Lashkar-e-Taiba hasn't been the forte of the Pakistani government, India managed to let the Mumbai massacre happen despite good intelligence. So there are flaws on both sides.

D said...

I don't think III blog is a place to debate on such issues. I was just reffering to the N-tag, which the West use without asserting the "cause and effect" notion. I have raised serious doubts on the N-capability of both nations. It saddens me that people don't read between the lines and jump to conclusions. let peace prevail.

Saadia said...

You want me to read between the lines, D? India is a mature nation. Pakistan has a terrorist for a nuclear scientist? I'm sorry I failed to read between the lines.

Id's blog doesn't deserve such negative dialogues, so I'll resist hence onwards.

EYE said...

Must catch up with Ramchand Pakistani. I saw Khuda key liye after reading about it on your blog.really liked it. Though i thought it was bit too long. But nevertheless the point was driven home.

cubano said...

This looks quite interesting. I think I'll watch it this weekend.

I saw a couple of good Indian movies last weekend on the topic of terrorism in India. The first was called 'A Wednesday' and the second was called 'Mumbai Meri Jaan'. Check them out if you get a chance.

D said...

Saadia..you can't deny the truth...Abdul Qadeer Khan went on TV to accept full responsibility for all nuclear transfers.

Here are links from New York Times and BBC, and none of them sing Indian tunes. Hope this clears the air.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3457811.stm

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9800EFD71F38F932A35751C0A9629C8B63

Saadia said...

Dr A Q Khan's statement was given under immense pressure. However, one can't rule out the possibility of nuclear proliferation, and I didn't deny that either. However, my point was that to call India a mature nation, and to give Pakistan the benefit of a terrorist scientist only is quite unfair. There is quite a lot of corruption in India and other countries too. We should try and highlight those some time too. For the time being, here's a video.

Over and out.

Cubano, I haven't seen 'Mumbai Meri Jaan' but 'A Wednesday' is quite worth one's while. Our Shah sb never disappoints.

EYE said...

Thanks for guiding me to the poem. I hadn't read it until now...similar to my thoughts. interesting.

EXSENO said...

I would love to see this movie, but it's not in English. Too bad.

Id it is said...

exseno,
I saw it with English subtitles and it did not take away from the movie that much.

Saadia said...

Yes, it is one of the better movies to watch with subtitles. It doesn't bank on dialogues much, so the expressions, the body languages and the background music tell it all.

cubano said...

I saw it a couple of days ago. It was great. Thanks for pointing it out.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi, I made my way here through a search engine, looking for what fellow bloggers had to say about this movie. Like you, I really enjoyed it. Particularly impressive was the subtlety with which the issues were treated, to lead to the 'closeness' of the two communities, as you mention.

Have any of you seen drama serials by Mehreen Jabbar? I haven't, and could use some recommendations :)

Thanks.

Saadia said...

One of Mehreen Jabbar's TV serials, "Doraha" just ended on Geo TV. Thoroughly entertaining and thoroughly natural. The actors too have all done a perfect job. See if you can get any DVDs. Filmography