KARACHI: Love knows no boundaries nor does it understand the man-made differences between different sects and ethnicities, but every lover knows that it is taboo to fall in love with the enemy. Controversial Bangladeshi film Meherjaan, which portrays the love dynamics between two young lovers coming from opposing backgrounds, was screened and discussed at The Second Floor (T2F) on Friday.l
Omar Rahim, the lead actor of the film who was the only Pakistan-based actor in the venture, said that, “This film brings up a lot of issues. I am sure people present in our midst today have bloodlines left in Bangladesh and on some level can relate to the storyline.” The actor explained that the criticism Meherjaan got for its portrayal of war was unjustified because war was a secondary theme in the film. “War was only used as a prop. The film is actually a love story blossoming between a Bangladeshi girl and a Pakistani-Baloch soldier.”
Rahim, who plays the role of Wasim Khan in the film said, “Even though norm defying love stories is a controversial topic in Bangladesh, the film that was released in mid-January 2011, received great response in Dhaka and Chittagong.” Unfortunately it couldn’t stay in theatres for more than 10 days because it created uproar amongst the conservative and intellectual group and invited criticism from film critics in Bangladesh. “The topic hit a raw nerve of many Bangladeshi patriots!” The film also got criticised for its unrealistic portrayal of an incident in which a freedom fighter from the Bangladeshi group Mukti Bahinis saves his enemy, a Baloch soldier.
When asked about the response of the Bangladeshi audience, Rahim said, “The common man in Bangladesh enjoyed it because it was a personal story. Plus, I have noticed that films that revolve around the question of how to eliminate hatred with love always get appreciated by the audience.”
Rahim, who got lauded for his performance in such complex film said, “It’s a story that decodes how nationalism operates and how humanity overshadows hatred and enmity.”
During the 1971 war, Meher, a Bangladeshi girl, falls in love with Baloch. Soldier from the enemy camp, while her cousin Neela Ahmed becomes a victim of rape. When Meher’s love is discovered, she is silenced by her family. Thirty-eight years after the war, Meher gets a visitor she can’t turn away. Sarah — Neela’s illegitimate child who was given for adoption — comes back to get questions about her past answered. Meher then narrates her tragic love story and the reality behind Neela’s rape, according to rubaiyat-hossain.com.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2012.