Thursday, July 10, 2008

Giving a Minority Report

Since 1971, the year of Pakistan's partition, not a single film about Hindus has been made in Pakistan. But now it has and it's getting a great deal of international attention, including being shown at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. The director, Mehreen Jabber, (pictured on the right) daughter of a Pakistani filmmaker, is someone familiar to many Pakistanis but has only now gained international recognition through her film Ramchand Pakistani. Based on a true story the film depicts a Hindu Pakistani boy and his father who accidentally cross the Indo-Pak border in the shared desert region and consequently get captured by Indian forces who think they are spies. The intent is not only to depict this true story but also to shed light on the issue of citizens of the two countries being imprisoned on the other side of the border.

The film has been receiving wonderful reviews for it's cross-border relationship building, and the increasing of cultural ties because of it's Indo-Pak cast. However, I feel that in a time when the Hindu minority of the country is increasingly being targeted for violence (see Ali Eteraz's article here) depicting Pakistani Hindus as, well, Pakistani, is an excellent effort in normalizing this marginalized population. A film dealing with an often ignored population is a breath of fresh air in a region with cookie cutter Bollywood films. Credit goes to director Mehreen Jabber for whom the the human interest story was moving and the political story added even more spice. With not many female Muslim directors from the region gaining international attention for her work, it is nice to see a woman from the region garner such positive attention for a necessary piece of work as well as an effort to bridge the gap between Pakistan and India.

The film stars Nandita Das, Rashid Farooqui, and Syed Fazal Hussain among others.