A Good Idea Thrown Into The Drain
What happens when a Muslim family takes their child out of the Madarsa and decides to place him in a ‘regular’ school? The angry ‘Hindu teacher beats him unnecessarily, the other kids laugh at him, keeping the Hindu-Muslim hatred alive. Also the Madarsa folk don’t like losing kids, so they play dirty with the family… It starts out as a lovely little film about education, about two kids who play truant and ends up being this awful kindling to enflame religious passions during election year.
Whether or not the film is financed by a political party whose interests are to keep the religious minorities in ghettos is not the question here at all. It may serve politics to show how the Hindu majority treats a kid from the Muslim minority. It may eve be true in some parts of the country, but then it is done so ham-handedly, it is with jaw dropping disbelief that you watch a Hindu teacher single out the little Muslim boy and beat him up.
The basic idea of the film is very, very good: If the Muslim kids are to find their rightful place in the society as citizens, they need to get out and study like every other kid. Merely studying religious texts is not going to help them deal with the real world, and even get out of the poverty that seems to plague the people who live in the ghettos.
So Fuffu (Neelima Azeem) is an aunt visiting her ancestral home in Benras from Pakistan, on a three-month visa. Her brother (Hakim Raza) and bedridden father are guilty of sending her off to Pakistan during some riots and her life has been hell as the fourth wife of some man there. So Raza (Danish Hussain) goes to the police to get help with a Visa extension.
In the meanwhile, Fuffu suggests a very good thing: Raza’s son Ali should study in a proper school if he wants to be a doctor. Studying in the Madarsa is not going to help him get admission in a medical college.
Raza agrees and takes his son to the school where the headmaster agrees to put the child in grade three to test his intelligence.
Now here’s where the good idea is pushed over the cliff. No one from the kid’s family cares really about what he’s learning in school. Not even Fuffu enquires as to how the lad fares at school. The only one who seems to care is his best friend who is still studying in the Madarsa. The film meanders over to a horrendous romance between Raza’s niece and the neighborhood very obviously extremist Muslim man (His bike has green Islam flags, he wears everything green, he carries prayer beads with him at all times, he even becomes a master at the Madarsa). The romance is so awful you wish you had not seen it. But I suppose it is necessary because the master then blackmails Raza into putting the child back into Madarsa again.
By this time, you are so tired of the shoddy acting by everyone, led by Neelima Azeem (she seems to be in a bizarre overacting zone), that you don’t really care if Ali manages to become a doctor or no. And while you despair about the weird ‘Muslims are hapless victims of Hindu anger’ theme you don’t stop being rattled by how terrible the dialog is, how everyone seems to be wearing brand new clothes all the time, how the niece has to go through alleys to reach Ali’s friend’s home when from the terrace the house looks like it next door…
You grimace that a good idea - that education is important - just fall on the side. Wrapped in all kinds of anti-Hindu, victim-Muslim tirade this is a movie best avoided.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)