Mike Sees Our Movie
By Rafiq Ebrahim
Glen Ellyn, IL


It was at Park Towers in Karachi where I had gone with my wife who was on a shopping spree, slashing the contents of my wallet mercilessly, when I accidentally met Mike, an old buddy from Chicago. After exchanging greetings and complaining as to why one of us didn’t inform the other about the visit to Karachi, we agreed on spending a day together, in which I was to show him some indigenous attractions.
As such, the next day I went to meet him at the hotel he was staying in. Coming out of his room, he suggested a minibus ride, which I ruled out forcefully because of my recent heart-jolting experiences in one of the buses. Then he expressed a keen desire to see one of our movies. I tried to discourage him, but he was bent upon seeing one.
As such, we went to a cinema house which was exhibiting what seemed to be a forceful movie with the title somewhat like “A storm of love” if translated in English. On a big billboard displayed outside, the movie was described as an unforgettable saga of love and sacrifice, a musical extravaganza. This would be the right movie for Mike to see, I felt.
I bought the tickets and we took our seats amid hardened cinemagoers, old and young women and children of all ages who filled the auditorium to its capacity.
After a few commercials, the movie started with a scene showing a well-built, rural young man looking very depressed and disheveled, and shedding tears in a hospital lobby.
“Why is the body-builder crying?” asked Mike.
“It seems he has been struck with a tragedy, let’s wait and see,” I replied.
The guy suddenly bursts out into a song, employing rigorous gestures with both hands. A doctor and a couple of nurses, on seeing him, are visibly moved. The doctor rubs his eyes to wipe off tears and the nurses get hysteric. Another doctor, coming out of his room and sensing that the guy has gone mad, grabs his arm, takes him to an examination room, inserts a needle in his arm and makes him relax. This doctor seemed to be a psychiatrist. He begins to probe into his unconscious, and the story of the film starts in a flashback.
A typical village scene, with all its greeneries, trees, plantations and birds chirping, appear on the screen. A muscular, tall woman of about forty, trying to look like a bashful maiden of seventeen, was circling around a peepal tree with the hospital guy chasing her. They start singing a duet, and my friend Mike heaved a long audible sigh. A little boy, sitting next to him, began to cry at the impact of the sigh.
The guy, whose name happened to be Jameel, hugs the heroine, whose name happened to be Jameela. They promise to live and die together. After this romantic scene, Jameel, with a happy tune on his lips, goes home. At home he is confronted by a pugree-clad chaudhry with a fierce moustache who looked like Jameel’s father. The chaudhry, on seeing his son coming back, shouts, employing his vocal chord to the fullest.
“What does the dacoit want?” asked Mike.
“ He is not a dacoit. He is the hero’s father and wants that his son should work in the fields instead of fooling around with village girls and singing songs,” I clarified.
“Oh, I see,” said Mike.
Now we see a village well. Jameela and other girls – or rather matured women pretending to be young girls –are seen fetching water. And while doing that, they begin to dance and sing loudly.
“Are they doing some kind of workout to reduce their unseemly fat?” asked Mike.
“This is supposed to be one of our popular folk dances. Mike, you won’t be able to see such a dance anywhere in our country. What we are seeing is a filmy version of a dance.”
Another day dawns on the silver screen. Jameel peels sugar cane with his strong, white teeth and goes out in search of his girl. Suddenly, we hear a loud bang of music and see Jameela with a lean and hungry-looking guy. Jameel, hiding behind a tree, sees them together .He gets a jolt, drops down on a plank of tree and begins to sing a sad song.
Mike put a nut in his mouth and cracked it hard making a few children sitting behind us laugh.
Disappointed in love, our hero marches back to his home, and the accompanying background music conveys the impression that a war has broken out and a soldier is going to the front. Jameel gets himself closeted in his room for days and days, doesn’t shave or wash, grows long hair, smokes too many cigarettes, consumes a large quantity of locally made liquor, shouts and acts madly.
“Has he contacted Aids?” asked Mike, apprehensively.

“He is suffering the pangs of disappointment in love,” I said.
Meanwhile, Jameela misses him and sends a messenger to inquire about his condition. The messenger happens to be the same lean and hungry-looking guy with whom he had seen his girl some days back. “Villain!” shouts Jameel. “I’ll teach you a lesson.” He leaps forward – in slow motion. “I’ll break your neck or arm or both,” he yells. The messenger is taken aback. A fistfight follows in which the messenger is badly hurt. He starts crying and reveals that he is the one and only brother of Jameela. Jameel gets the shock of his life. He acts fast. He informs the heroine about the accident over his cell (mobile) phone and takes the injured brother to the nearest hospital on a horseback.
While the brother is being examined and treated inside, Jameela comes to the clinic in tears. Both now wait in the lounge in acute anxiety. A doctor at last comes out, shakes his head and announces that the guy’s arm is broken. Jameela begins to cry aloud and then starts beating Jameel with her fists.
The flashback ends. The first scene appears again.
Mike got up and pleaded, “Let’s get out.”
“But the actual movie has not even started.” I said. “The saga is about to unfold; the storm of love is about to unleash.”
“Never mind,” Mike said. “Please let’s go.”
Outside, in a nearby café over a cup of coffee and long reflection, Mike said, “The movie certainly had a message which I have been unable to grasp, but one thing is sure, it is far away from reality.”
“Most of the movies made here are purposely unrealistic.” I said, trying to defend our Lollywood. “People want to escape from reality every now and then, because it is often harsh for the masses. They generally don’t take drugs or indulge in most Western vices. They just go to cinema houses.”
“I see, “ said Mike, reflectively. “Your movies are doing great service to the people!”


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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