Pakistan films tackle issues with children's tales

Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:56pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two new films shed light on Pakistan's deep-rooted social and political problems by looking at them through the eyes of a child.

Based on a true story, "Ramchand Pakistani" follows the young Hindu boy of the title as he accidentally steps over the ill-defined border between old rivals Pakistan and India, triggering a nightmare that drags on for years.

"Son of a Lion," set in the North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, tells the story of Niaz, who must overcome the odds to get an education despite his stern father's desire that he follows him into the gun-making trade.

Javed Jabbar, whose daughter Mehreen directed "Ramchand" and who came up with the idea of the film when he heard about families who underwent similar ordeals, said Pakistani cinema may at last be emerging from decades in the doldrums.

"There was another film last year called 'In the Name of God' which helped revive public interest in cinema and in good films," he told Reuters in Berlin, where the two movies were showcased at the annual film festival that has just finished.

"That was a very topical film and now this movie has come along. I think there is more interest among young people now."

Pakistan's film industry has been starved of a natural audience in neighboring India due to political differences and overshadowed by the dominant Bollywood industry based in Mumbai.

What Pakistani films there have been have tended to be low-budget imitations of Bollywood, dubbed "Lollywood" because they were made in the eastern city of Lahore.   Continued...