Ramchand Pakistani : movie with a difference

If you’re a strict commercial movie fan, stop reading – this movie isn’t for you. Go watch Kismet Konnection, or if you plan to promote a Pakistani movie, watch Javed Sheikh’s Khulay Aasmaan Ke Neechay and in case you need something extremely stupid, you might be lucky enough to grab a ticket in full houses of Singh is King !

Ramchand Pakistani is a masterpiece !

Mehreen Jabbar and Javed Jabbar at the sets
Mehreen Jabbar and Javed Jabbar at the sets

Written and produced by Javed Jabbar – a legend in Advertising and documentary production n Pakistan, this is very much a project of his daughter, Mehreen Jabbar – a UCLA certified film-maker with many award winning productions to her credit like “Daughters of the Late Colonel”, “Lal Baig” and “Sanam Gazida“. Making a film like Ramchand Pakistani is not just bold but very brave step in itself. In a Muslim dominated society which is extremely intolerant as well, showing the perspective of the lowest in status of a minority – the untouchable Hindus is commendable. Mehreen shows how the bottom-of-the-bottom of a society cope with the problems they face for just crossing a line mistakenly.

Nandita Das plays the mother of Ramchand
Nandita Das plays the mother of Ramchand

The film tells a true story of a Pakistani Hindu boy belonging to untouchable caste, Ramchand who crosses the border accidentally in times of extreme tensions between India and Pakistan.  His father, looking for him does the same and they are caught by the BSF. They are later kept in an over-crowded prison in India for years. The movie effectively highlights the serious issues like the condition of prisoners, the mental growth of a child in a prison and the problems of the prisoners kept in Indian and Pakistan jails for crossing the line. The character of Ramchand seeks to emphasize on the commonality bewteen the people of India and Pakistan rather than promoting differences, as many Bollywood movies have tended to do.

Ramchands parents - played by Nandita Das and Rashid Farooqi
Ramchand’s parents – played by Nandita Das and Rashid Farooqi

The theme of the movie, as Mehreen explains is:

The singular theme of the film is how a child from Pakistan aged eight years learns to cope with the trauma of forced separation from his mother while being held prisoner, along with his father in the jail of a country i.e. India, which is hostile to his own, while on the other side of the border, the wife-mother, devastated by their sudden disappearance builds a new chapter of her life, by her solitary struggle for sheer survival.

Maria Wasti plays a police officer in the Indian Jail
Maria Wasti plays a police officer in the Indian Jail

What I loved about the movie is that it portrays a family living in very under-developed reigion, not even enjoying what we call necessities of life today, suffering from religious discrimination, insensitive, intolerant and unjust social system and how such a family becomes victim to acrimonious political relationship between two neighbor-states poised on the brink of war. This is what makes Mahreen give the movie the tagline “He crossed one line and three lives changed forever !

Rashid Farooqi plays the father of Ramchand
Rashid Farooqi plays the father of Ramchand

I have been hearing “Pakistan me acting ka bohat talent hay” since I was a kid, specially on PTV but it is movies like this and KKL which prove this statement.  I wont say much about Nandita Das, she was fabulous as always and was the perfect choice for the character she played. Rashid Farooqi, plays the role of father of Ramchand and he did a great job. In his 18 years of career with PTV he had shown his talent in plays like Shanakht but this was definitely a new Rashid Farroqi. I have always liked Maria Wasti for her honest and natural performances. I will mever forget “Kullo” – her famous PTV drama but Maria is definitely at her best in this movie. She is given a tough character to play and she did it perfect. Nauman Ijaz has a continuous but a less-apparent role to play which he plays well. Frankly, there wan’t much margin for him to show something extraordinary as the role was quite simle.

The younger Ramchand being taken to Delhi from the jail
The younger Ramchand being taken to Delhi from the jail

Are you a fan of the kid who played the lead role in recent Bollywood flick, “Taare Zameen Par” ? You gotta watch Ramchand Pakistani then and watch Syed Faqzal Hussain, who plays as younger Ramchand. He is an excellent discovery and has done his job marvellously – It could’nt have been any better. Credit goes to Mehreen for getting the best out of the cast. Navaid Jabbar, who plays the older Ramchand has a short but a very intersting role to play. He plays Ramchand turned into a taproori living in jail for years !

The jail cell where Ramchand and his father are kept
The jail cell where Ramchand and his father are kept

I can not really compare this with Khuda Ke Liye as that was sort of a commercial movie while this is in no way but KKL was unsubtle in a way while this isn’t. The second half of the film drags and the climax doesn’t quite materialize with the dramatic punch that the audience expects. However , I liked the lack of overstated drama.

Ramchand in his house
Ramchand in his house

I highly recommend those who have a taste for non-commercial movies to watch this. Flying dopattas, a girl running around a tree, a shirt-less boy following her, pyaar, ishq, dil etc music in background….. don’t expect stuff like this in the movie. The movie is being screened in DHA Cinema and Sozo Gold (042-6662289) in Lahore.  Watch, then comeback here and let me know did you like the movie !

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