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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK
Jinnah film overcomes doubts
Mohammed Ali Jinnah
The film aims to give Jinnah a more human face
By Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad

A controversial film about the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, has opened in cinemas throughout Pakistan.

The film has been described as Pakistan's answer to Richard Attenborough's film Gandhi.

The director says it is intended to give a human face to a man who is viewed by some non-Pakistanis as austere and inflexible.


Christopher Lee
Many Pakistanis have objected to the fact that Jinnah was played by Christopher Lee
One scene even shows Jinnah crying when he saw the suffering and bloodshed caused by the partition of the subcontinent.

Jinnah is revered in Pakistan as someone who, by sheer force of argument, gave the Muslims of the subcontinent a safe place to live.

But making a film about the man known as Qaid-e-Azam, or the Great Leader, has been controversial.

Praise

Many Pakistanis, for example, objected to the fact that Jinnah was played by Christopher Lee, because he has also acted as Dracula.

The film's backers say they are disappointed that no major international distributor has picked it up, but the film looks like having success in Pakistan, where the first people to see it came out of the cinema full of praise.

"I think that everything that was said in the history books has come alive through this movie," said one cinema-goer.

"It was open. It showed that Qaid-e-Azam was a very tolerant man. It didn't show that... we should try and suppress the minorities," said another.

The film does portray Jinnah as a liberal and progressive leader with a largely secular vision of Pakistan.

But most of those who have seen it did not come out talking about the role of religion in the Pakistani State, but simply saying how patriotic the film made them feel.

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