5 off-beat films that explore Indo-Pak relationship perfectly

  • Rohit Vats, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2015 11:57 IST

Salman Khan is all set to enter Pakistan and make a lost child reunite with her family in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. In the process, director Kabir Khan will also try to explore the common social fabric between the two countries. After all, the film is releasing on Eid, a festival that is celebrated in India and Pakistan with equal enthusiasm and fervour. Of course, Kabir Khan is not the first director to do so as there’re many films that have spread their canvas on the turf of India and Pakistan.

A number of films ranging from Yash Chopra’s Dharamputra (1961) to Anil Sharma’s blockbuster Gadar (2001) based their premise on characters that were supposed to enter the neighbouring country to attach a meaning to their lives. Films like Border (1997), Hindustan Ki Kasam (1999), Deewar (2004) and many others featured the same theme but a lot of jingoism forced them to overlook the covert side of what it actually means to be a Pakistani for the Indians and vice versa. However, there are other filmmakers who put the spotlight on the softer, more human sides of the always quarreling neighbours.

Here’s a list of five such off-beat films that are bang on in this pursuit.

Train To Pakistan (1997): This film is based on Khushwant Singh’s homonymous novel which sets up the audience’s meeting with a village called Mano Majra, a place situated in frontier Punjab. It’s a Sikh village where Muslims are supposed to carry out petty jobs, but things change forever when the British Empire decides to put a stamp on India’s partition. A train full of dead bodies arrives in the village in the wake of such a grim situation and that one moment triggers a never ending saga of love, hatred and betrayal. Director Pamela Rooks film is exemplary in getting the details right.

Khamosh Pani (2003): You wouldn’t find a more nuanced story on the India-Pakistan relationship then this Sabiha Sumar film. Let us take you through the basic plot of the film and you would immediately recognise the power of this idea: Ayesha (Kirron Kher) is a Muslim who imparts religious lessons to small girls in a Pakistani village and is expected to be a righteous woman. One day, a group of Sikh pilgrimage enters Pakistan on permission and enquires about a Sikh woman lost during the partition. Ayesha turns out to be that woman and that brings her at loggerheads with her own son Saleem who is deeply influenced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s radical Islamic policies.

Lahore (2010): This Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan directed film is a hugely under-rated film because it hasn’t been seen by many, but trust us that it’s one of the better sports-based films made in Hindi. An Indian kick-boxer loses a very important match to his Pakistani counterpart under dubious circumstances, but his brother decides to avenge the much-talked about defeat. This film boasts of many Hollywood technicians and is among those early Hindi films which were distributed by Warner Brothers worldwide.

Read: Bajrangi Bhaijaan to release in Pakistan with cuts

Midnight’s Children (2012): Some of you may argue that it doesn’t qualify as an off-beat film because it is backed by a big Hollywood production house and is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Deepa Mehta, but subject and presentation distinguishes Midnight’s Children from other run-of-the-mill stories. Based on Salman Rushdie’s controversial book of the same name, it presents Pakistan as a ghost hovering in the minds of many confused Indians. Rushdie’s magical realism has been brought to the silver screen in an amazing way in this one. Sensible and shocking to the core, it’s one of those films which will be remembered for its subtle yet simple conflict line.


Filmistaan (2014): This is relatively a new film, so you must be familiar with the name. Director Nitin Kakkar took a 180 degree turn and imbibed his otherwise serious social commentary with light hearted elements. A group of filmmakers starts shooting in Jaipur, but one of them finds himself in Pakistan the next morning. Clueless about the future turn of events, he simply engages himself in all sorts of stupid antics. He befriends some Pakistanis in the process and sets out to make a film. It’s a charming little film which confirms our belief in humanity.


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