There were times when my Indian self could not suppress a grin at the identity problem Pakistan as a nation faces. But let’s leave that for later.
On to the movie. Interesting characters
- Elder brother – a Muslim man of Pakistani origin – settled in Britain. Has enjoyed his life on his own terms. Still does not mind living in with a white woman. But in these later stage of his life, he is worried about the preservation of Islamic identity of his off springs and hence does not mind tricking and forcing his Britain-bred daughter into a marriage in Pakistan, completely unsuitable for her upbringing, carried out not even in Lahore (his hometown), rather at an obscure village on Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
- Younger brother and his family, settled in Pakistan – very progressive. Refuse to be a part of the schemes of the elder brother. Don’t mind marriages to the whites, but are uncomfortable at the idea of living in without wedding. However, do not create much fuss over that either. Are as ignorant of Al-Quaida before 9/11 as a person in any other country would be. A very sensitive depiction of the fact that how irrational racial profiling could be.
I was totally impressed with the way the contrast was shown in the attitudes of the two brothers towards religion, family etc. The one settled outside Pakistan for decades has probably struggled for his identity in a foreign land. And the insecurity leads him, in later days, to cling to an outdated ideal of religious identity preservation – making him a completely ridiculous and cruel father and of course a big hypocrite. The brother settled in Pakistan, on the other hand, has not suffered this identity crisis and has adopted progressive lifestyle and ideas, as the time has progressed. He does not need to cling to the ridiculous ideas and is happy and content with his existence and identity. Happily allows his elder son to marry a white girl in the USA. Scoff at the younger son’s inclination towards Islamic Fanaticism. Is a good Muslim and good human being.
The British-Muslim elder brother, and the elder son of younger brother have an important role to play and their acting has not quite been up to the mark. Especially the former’s. He does not seem to know the A-B-C of acting. The lead characters – elder brother’s daughter and younger brother’s younger son have done very well. Other actors are also all right.
Now back to the identity crisis of Pakistan as a nation. In one scene the Pakistani man proudly announces to his American companion that “we” built Taj Mahal and “we” ruled India for so many centuries. Ahem! Now, who exactly this “we” is. It’d be ridiculous to say the “we” refers to Pakistanis. So, at best it is Muslims. Unfortunately there isn’t much of an identity it provides to Pakistan. The now cliched data of there being more Muslims in Indian than in Pakistan comes in the way. I am not trying to mock them, but I think this is a bad situation to be in for any nation. This identity crisis of who they are. They have themselves severed their ties to things that were centuries old and the only identity they can claim for their own is also not completely their own. Probably the religious fanaticism comes in to fill this gap!