It's 1947 and the borderlines between India and Pakistan are being drawn. A young girl bears witnesses to tragedy as her ayah is caught between the love of two men and the rising tide of political and religious violence.
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The movie opens in Lahore of 1947 before India and Pakistan became independent. It is a cosmopolitan city, depicted by the coterie of working class friends who are from different religions. The rest of the movie chronicles the fate of this group and the maddening religious that sweeps even this city as the partition of the two countries is decided and Lahore is given to Pakistan. Written by
Neel V Kumar <email@example.com>
See it. Watch for the symbolism. Watch out for the critics' cynicism.
Go see this film. It is wonderful. But it is not for everyone.
Most of the comments here on IMDb are positive and I agree with these reviews. However, for me the cynicism of the critics was unfounded because I was not expecting the usual Hollywood movie. If you cannot relate to this film in a positive way then I suppose that you have not traveled much and have not lived in other cultures, at least not in Asia. This is not an American film made for an American audience.
This is very much an adult film for a sensitive and mature audience. It is certainly not for those seeking the usual thrills and spills and formula love stories. We are given a look at a very important and prominent country being split up by a colonial power, and how this political decision affects millions of people in some of the most awful manners. A million lost their lives! The tension between India and Pakistan still haunts us all ! So don't expect a nice and sweet film, although there were some beautiful scenes of childhood innocence and the romance of young lovers.
The symbolism is rich. At the start we see a dinner table with the main groups of people represented in the formation of Pakistan: English, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, Parsee. Throughout the film Lenny Baby represents the innocence and naivety which so many people remain in during geopolitical processes. When it is this young girl's birthday, she can find no one who cares. Her birthday is the same day of the Pakistan-India split, and the symbolism is obvious. She then finds a Muslim refugee boy whose mother was brutally killed by Hindus. He asks her if she is a Hindu and when she replies "no" she also asks if he wants some cake. "Cake? What is cake?" Lenny-the-Naive is baffled, and again the symbolism is obvious. So many of us cannot really relate to the plight of refugees. What happens to this innocent and naive position at the end? We are stunned to see the results. Naivety leads Beauty and Love to a terrible fate. Innocence is tragically deceived. It wasn't until my second viewing of this film that I saw the many symbolic references. Watch the film with this perspective and you will see through the cynicism such as writer "Pass the pappadom" makes elsewhere on this page.
One symbolic reference that I am not sure if I understand was that of the Sikh man and his family, hiding from the Muslim killer mob. He was such a sincere and gentle man, and even his dagger raised in defense did not detract from his positive qualities. Was he portrayed in this way because the Sikhs had too much 'bad press' about their warrior ways? Were the Sikhs ineffective in protecting themselves during the division?
A friend of mine told me that he cried all the way home after seeing this film. He is 46 years old and not a weak and overly sensitive person. My wife and I were quite emotionally moved by this film, and we cannot relate to the film critics that say otherwise. By the way, my wife lived in India for a year and she loved seeing the various scenes of everyday Indian life, so you may enjoy the film just for the sake of seeing people living life outside of Hollywood America.
One last symbolic reference to ponder was the touching romantic scene between the two lovers amidst the ancient ruins. Here we see a Muslim man saying that he would convert to Hinduism so that the marriage would be possible. All they needed to do is to leave to live in the newly divided India. The ancient ruins indicate the past, but unfortunately the lovers return to the present.
This is a film that I will remember for a long time. I highly recommend that you see it, if you don't mind a serious film about major issues, seen from a non-American perspective.
Director - writer Deepa Mehta deserves much credit for depicting the complexities of one of the world's worst tragedies with diplomatic balance, not placing blame on any one group but yet revealing the errors and brutality that each group made.
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