In the Name of God

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CHENNAI, India -- "In the Name of God" ("Khuda Kay Liye") is the first Pakistani film to be released in India since 1965, when war between the neighbors led to a ban on exchange of cinema. With 100 prints in India, compared to 20 across the border, the movie is part of a new agreement to show each other's films, a step that may revive the theater business in Pakistan, where Lahore was the center of sub-continental cinema before it shifted to Bombay post 1947.

The movie tells us that Islam is progressive, but the interpretation of its teachings are often twisted by fundamentalists. It has a lengthy scene where the only Indian actor in it, Naseeruddin Shah, playing an enlightened Moulana Wali, exposes myths about Islam. Not exactly festival material, it attracted good crowds in Pakistan, and decent audiences in the first few days in India.

Set in the U.S., Britain and Pakistan, the plot follows two musician-brothers. One is brainwashed into extremism; the other becomes a victim of this post 9/11 hysteria. Sarmad (Fawad Khan) drops music and marries Mary/Maryam (Iman Ali), a London-bred Pakistani girl, against her will on the radical instruction of Moulana Tahiri (Rasheed Naz). Liberal Mansoor (Shaan) is tortured as a suspect in the U.S., where he is learning music, while his new American bride, Janie (Austin Marie Sayre), is left holding placards of plea.

Despite poor production values, too many artistic liberties and stilted acting that point to debuting director Shoaib Mansoor's weaknesses, the film may touch the heart. Meanwhile, some tunes are bound to haunt you long after the curtain comes down.

IN THE NAME OF GOD
Geo Films
International sales: Percept Picture Co.
Credits:
Director/writer/producer: Shoaib Mansoor
Directors of photography: David LeMay, Ken Seng
Music: Javed Bashir, Shuja Haider, Ahmad Jahanzeb, Khawar Jawad, Lagan Band
Art Director: David Christopher Krause
Costume designer: Emma Potter
Editors: Ali Javed and Amir Khan
Cast:
Mansoor: Shaan
Sarmad: Fawad Khan
Mary/Maryam: Iman Ali
Janie: Austin Marie Sayre
Moulana Tahiri: Rasheed Naz
Moulana Wali: Naseeruddin Shah
Running time -- 167 minutes
No MPAA rating
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