Page 7 - Pakistan Link - September 1, 2017
P. 7

OPINION                                                                                                        SEPTEMBER 1,  2017 –  PAKISTAN LINK  –  P7

               Re-release of Documentary on Jinnah to Mark 70th Independence Day

                       n By Dr Akbar Ahmed                                                                  lenges to complete the Jinnah film and documentary, which you’re
                        American University                                                                 about to see.”
                          Washngton, DC                                                                         She also reflected how, “Jinnah gives me and students every-
                                                                                                            where a role model, someone with integrity and honesty, someone
             hree decades ago, when I began the Jinnah Quartet,                                             who was proud of his culture, but also adapted to the best of West-
             which came to consist of the feature film, Jinnah (1998),                                      ern culture, and who fought relentlessly for women and minority
        Tstarring Christopher Lee; the documentary, Mr Jinnah:                                              rights.”
        The Making of Pakistan (1997); the graphic novel, The Quaid:                                            Frankie, meanwhile, noted from a scholarly perspective the
                    Jinnah and the Story of Pakistan  (1997); and the                                       film’s important legacy, as a young American no less: “The film
                    biographical study, Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic                                        presents a unique perspective on Jinnah the man and the country
                    Identity: The Search for Saladin (1997), I could                                        he created and features interviews with people who either knew
                    not imagine that, one day, the feature film would                                       Jinnah or were his contemporaries. The film is important for un-
                    be shown on Turner Classic Movies, one of the                                           derstanding the India-Pakistan relationship today as well as the
                    premier film networks in the US, nor could I                                            modernist interpretation of Islam that Jinnah envisioned for his
                    conceive the documentary becoming the star                                              country, with democracy and full respect for women’s rights, mi-
                    attraction of a number of high profile Muslim-                                          nority rights, and human rights.”
        American and Pakistani-American ceremonies.                                                             The responses I have received to the re-release of this docu-
            Yet, this very week, the 20th anniversary re-release of the                                     mentary reveal why it was so important that the effort be under-
        documentary, launched on the occasion of the 70th anniversary                                       taken, as the deep, global affection Pakistanis feel for the Quaid
        of Pakistan, had a befitting welcome at the Pakistan Embassy in                                     persists with fervor.
        Washington in a special showing on the occasion of Pakistan Day                                         Akhtar Faruqui, the distinguished chief editor of the Pakistan
        hosted by Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.                                                          Link newspaper in California, wrote to me after seeing it, “I sat
            The audience in the Embassy’s beautiful auditorium was vis-                                     almost spell-bound as I watched your documentary last Sunday. It
        ibly appreciative. Many of them had no idea of the background and                                   was a most instructive experience. The candor and revealing views
        details of the Quaid-i-Azam’s life, struggles, and sacrifices. Both                                 of the main actors of the critical period dispel the cobwebs that
        before and after the showing, the Ambassador, known as a schol-                                     often plague the mind of a student of history. The documentary’s
        ar-diplomat, expressed his warm appreciation of my work. Within   the film has reemerged twenty years later and that it is being fea-  message is profound and explains the decisions the Quaid took
        an hour of leaving the Embassy, I received the following message   tured and celebrated on the occasion of Pakistan’s 70th Anniversa-  during the defining period. Both your daughter and student spoke
        from the Ambassador, exhibiting old world courtesy: “Thank you   ry, but that it begins with reflective introductions by my daughter,   with becoming sobriety. Anyone who watches the documentary
        Sir for doing so much for our country and enabling us to remem-  Nafees Ahmed, and my research associate, Frankie Martin.  can’t help feeling that he/she owes you a debt of gratitude.”
        ber how great the founder of the country was. Proud of you. Hope   Nafees strikes a nerve with Pakistanis young and old in her   Dr Riaz Haider, a prominent Pakistani physician in DC,
        to work with you in many more events.”            commentary that, “I was lucky enough to play Dina, Jinnah’s   noted, “It is a must-see for all in Pakistan, especially the younger
            The film also had a successful reception at the annual ISNA                                     generation. It is also a must see for the Pakistani diaspora abroad.
        Film Festival in Chicago last month. My brilliant friend, Saeed   The Quaid would be proud knowing that the love   Thanks for your great and continuing work.”
        Khan, a professor at Wayne State University, and a relative of the   and affection for his work and message live on 70   Meanwhile, Bashy Quraishy, a Pakistani community leader in
        late great S.S. Pirzada who features in the film, hosted the show-  years later and are acknowledged across the world  Denmark, wrote, “The new documentary made me cry. I simply
        ing. The Pakistan Consul General of Chicago, Faisal Niaz Tirmizi,                                   get so emotional just looking at Quaid without whom, we would
        graced the function as its Chief Guest.The film drew an eager and                                   be nothing. Thank you for this work you did and are doing.” The
        attentive audience  even  in  the  middle  of  an  American  holiday   daughter, in the Jinnah film, when I was 7 years old. And I didn’t   Quaid would be proud knowing that the love and affection for his
        weekend. Khan texted me straight after the showing to say that it   quite realize at the time how incredible of a feat it was. But many   work and message live on 70 years later and are acknowledged
        was an “Excellent program” and added, “Great questions and the   years  later  at  university,  Pakistani and  Pakistani-American  stu-  across the world. (The writer is an author, poet, filmmaker,
        consul general gave very warm remarks...crowd very appreciative   dents would come up to me, so excited that my father had created   playwright, and the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies,
        of your contributions to edifying the Pakistan narrative.”  the Jinnah film. And I was even more proud because I had seen   American University in Washington, DC. He formerly served
            What makes this re-release so special though is not just that   how my father and mother had overcome such immense chal-  as the Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland)

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