Reformist Muslim

Exploring possibilities for the future of Islam and other thoughts

Location: London, United Kingdom

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Film Review - Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters)

When I started this blog, I didn't think that I would be writing a review of a Pakistani film. Although Pakistani drama serials have traditionally been highly thought of, its film industry or 'Lollywood' has catered to cruder tastes. Going to the cinema isn't considered to be a respectable pastime and a couple of years ago, the police even raided a Karachi cinema on the grounds that it was a den of prostitution!

Khamosh Pani isn't a typical Pakistani film though. Originally intended to be a documentary, the movie contains incisive social commentary to go along with superb acting and a thought-provoking plot.

Set in a small village in Punjab during the early period of General Zia's military rule in Pakistan, the film revolves around Saleem, an initially aimless, carefree 17 year old and his relationships with his mother and girlfriend, while exploring themes of religious extremism and communalism.

The New York Times reviewer didn't think much of the film until the 'fundamentalist wind blew in'. I think this misses the point - the first half hour which is very amusing shows the everyday concerns of ordinary people, thereby putting the rise of fundamentalism and its corrosive effects into perspective.

Particularly interesting is the fact that the director Sabiha Sumar (for interviews click here), decided to have the first screening of the movie in the village where it was filmed. Given the sensitive nature of some of the issues, she may have been justified in thinking that it wasn't worth the risk. However not surprisingly, the villagers enjoyed the film, it went through without a hitch and a traveling cinema was created to take the film to other parts of Pakistan as well.

With the KaraFilm Festival becoming a permanent fixture, films such as this one being made and the independent television media becoming more robust, there are positive signs emerging from Pakistan. Khamosh Pani although optimistic in places, provides a cautionary tale of how progress can be halted if religious fundamentalism is manipulated by those in power. I think it deserves a large audience both in Pakistan and abroad.

Cross-posted on Desicritics.


Anonymous sunny said...

Loved this film.....

4:37 am, February 08, 2006  

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