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.