A tale of lost humanity and struggling minorities

‘Ramchand Pakistani’ screened at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.


Sehrish Ali March 05, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Good movies and dialogue are the part and parcel of the “Movielog - Think, Challenge, Question” events being held at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).


Its monthly screening, targeting young women, was inaugurated on Monday with the famous Pakistani movie “Ramchand Pakistani”, in which the movie’s writer and producer, Javed Jabbar, was also invited to facilitate discussion and debate.

The movie is a true story of a low-caste Hindu family that lands into despair when their eight-year-old son Ramchand mistakenly crosses the border into India and is held captive along with his father Shankar. Without trial, the father and son are both thrown into jail and held in India for five years. The boy’s mother struggles to stand her ground in her locality, taking pains to pay off her husband’s debt without knowing what has become of her husband and son and if they will ever return.

Although morose, the storyline is a thorough entertainer that grips the viewer from start till the very end. The lack of dramatisation makes the plot refreshing; each scene is real and human, with rarely an over-the-top moment even in the most emotional of situations.

After the screening, Jabbar was invited to discuss with the viewers how the movie was made and the accounts of many such innocent people whose lives were torn apart when they were imprisoned without a preliminary trial.

The producer said that the purpose of the movie was to humanise Hindus in Pakistan. He said that being a minority religion in a predominantly Muslim nation, Hindus are discriminated not only by Muslims but also by members of their own community - as the Kohlis belong to the lowest caste they are known and treated by other Hindus as the untouchables.

“Hindus in Pakistan are as Pakistani as any other Muslim in the country and it is high time they given their due status,” said Jabbar.

While the movie portrayed sheer human dimension and tragedy, it also succeeded in bringing people from India and Pakistan to work together.

FES Programme Coordinator Qurutulain Zaman said that being restricted only to young women, it is a unique way to allow females to come in, enjoy a good movie as a leisurely timepass and become part of an active discussion. Restricted by traditional and societal norms, women seldom find opportunities to discuss and debate issues, said Zaman. Ranging from marital affairs to politics, Movielog is created to bring a conductive environment for females from all walks of life to interact and create networking, she added. Zaman said many men will argue that this is a serious gender-bias; however, the organisation remains firm that in order for females to feel comfortable and safe no male, except the invited guest speaker will be allowed at the event.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2012.

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