The movie had two screenings Sunday. Both shows drew packed houses and the film received a standing ovation.
'Khuda Kay Liye', a huge hit at the Pakistani box office, throws light on what being a Muslim in the post-9/11 world really means. The film works all the way through, despite its nearly three-hour running time, because it does not pull any punches.
The storytelling is consistently sturdy, and the film's production values are of the highest order. It drives home its point without the effort showing, primarily because of its even narrative tenor. It never slips into shrill hectoring.
'Khuda Kay Liye' is Mansoor's feature film debut, but he is no stranger to the media spotlight. A producer and director of television shows, theatre personality, composer and lyricist, he is one of the most influential figures in Pakistan's contemporary showbiz scene.
Coming from him, the appeal for sanity in the face of the complexity of the global Muslim situation has a special resonance, not the least because the protagonist of 'Khuda Kay Liye' shares his name with the director.
At the centre of the movie is a young Pakistani whose world is turned upside down when terror strikes the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, turning virtually every Muslim in the US into a suspect in the eyes of the American authorities.
Not only does the protagonist find himself behind bars, his impressionable brother falls under the influence of an old extremist friend, and a female cousin is carted away from Britain to prevent her from marrying her non-Muslim boyfriend.
Life doesn't get any easier even after the principal characters return to Pakistan, a country in the grip of an extremist ideology that has become an increasingly acceptable weapon to hit back at powers that are believed to be inimical to Islam.
The film questions the efficacy of violence as a means to right perceived wrongs even as it reasserts the truism that liberal, humanist voices are still alive and kicking in Pakistan.
Naseeruddin Shah essays a powerful cameo as an Islamic scholar who embodies the voice of reason. Even though the role is limited in terms of footage, in the context of the film's message, it is the most important component of the movie. Shah, true to form, lends weight to the characterisation with a well-measured performance.
The rest of the cast is no less competent. Especially impressive are Pakistani superstar Shaan in the role of the harried protagonist Mansoor, and Iman Ali, playing the character of Maryam who falls prey to the rising tide of conservatism on the fringes of Pakistani society.
'Khuda Kay Liye' is a film that deserves wide distribution not only in India, but also all around the world.ALSO READ: Naseeruddin Shah's remarks on films spark reactions from Pallavi Joshi and Anil Sharma