This film was released in 1998 but due to contractual and political difficulties, was only released on DVD in Britain in 2004.
According to BBC reports, the Pakistan Government was to have funded the film, but withdrew when it learned that Christopher Lee was to take the lead role. Apparently his fame for portraying Dracula caused the insult, though nervousness over public reaction to the film has also been suggested as a reason. Even now it is difficult to obtain a copy.
The film begins with the death of Mohammed Ali Jinnah; through a computer error, the details of Jinnah’s life have been lost, and he and his recording angel must travel back through his life to reassess it. This rather charming device allows the writers, Jamil Dehlavi and Akbar Ahmed, to show us the story of Jinnah’s life, both the world-changing decisions he was involved with, and the smaller personal events which influenced them.
To their immense credit, the writers avoid descending into hagiography. The film merely presents evidence and leaves us to make up our own minds. Quaid-e-Azam (father of the nation) himself chose not to follow Bapu’s approach of rousing righteous indignation, lest that same indignation be turned less righteously on Muslims. So the film’s unemotional view of the man is particularly apt.
I sense the film suffered from a lack of funding; some of the acting is variable and some scenes seem a bit disjointed to me. Nevertheless, that the film was made at all is remarkable, given the protests. Christopher Lee (Jinnah) and James Fox (Mountbatten) give the performances you would expect, and both they and the film received positive reviews from the critics. This film is ideal for Gandhians looking for an introduction to the alternative side of partition.
Filed under: Reviews & Arts