Pakistani Film ‘Border’ (2002)

An interesting but not-so-surprising observation when it comes to the idea of Muslim man-Hindu woman relationships is that while ‘secular’ Bollywood pushes this propaganda subtly, the openly Islamist Lollywood promotes it blatantly. (Bollywood means Mumbai-based film industry and Lollywood means Lahore-based film industry.)

In this piece, we review a hit Pakistani film, that also has a Muslim man-Hindu woman romantic sub-plot, titled Border (2002).

The film features Pakistani superstar Shaan Shahid, who has acted in over 200 films and is one of Pakistan’s highest-paid actors. Perhaps his most noteworthy role was in 2007 film Khuda Ke Liye, which also had a cameo by Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah who played a Muslim cleric. The film made history with its theatrical release in India as it was the first film to be shown in Indian cinema halls after a gap of four decades. The 1965 war had prompted both countries to ban the screening of cross-border films. 

The film, Border, is based on religious enmity between two fictitious characters named Major Bharat (from the Indian Army) and Major Khalid (from the Pakistani Army), played by Shaan.

The film is an unbearable watch thanks to bad screenplay and direction as well as cringe-worthy over-the-top religious propaganda, but that’s besides the point. We are focussing on a sub-plot in the film about a love story between Khalid and an Indian woman named Preeti.

For the uninitiated, the propaganda that Indian Armymen rape Muslim women, and Muslim men are much stronger than Hindu men, are common themes in many Pakistani films, and Border has both. In a scene where Indian Armymen are shown forcibly taking Muslim women hostage in order to rape them, the women are shown calling them “Hindu kutte [Hindu dogs]”. (Point to note: not “Indian kutte”, but “Hindu kutte”.

Watch the clips below:

The love story unfolds like this: Khalid and Bharat go to Dubai for a boxing competition that is attended by Preeti as a chief guest. Played by popular Pakistani actress Sana Nawaz, Preeti is introduced as daughter of the Indian Ambassador in Dubai named Gopichand.

Watch the clip below:

As soon as Khalid sees the Pakistani flag, his body turns (metaphorically) into iron and none of Bharat’s strong punches have any effect on him. On the other hand, one punch by Khalid sends Bharat flying out of the arena to fall at Preeti’s feet.

Watch the clip below:

Preeti is completely unimpressed by Bharat, and immediately falls for Khalid. In the next scene, she is shown visiting Khalid in his room with a bouquet and asking him to write his name on her heart.

Watch the clip below:

Shortly later, she visits Pakistan to meet Khalid where the two confess their love for each other. A song-and-dance routine follows, where Preeti sings, “Main na jaanu deen dharm ko, main na jaanu rasmein kasmein (I neither care for religion nor rituals or tradition).

The scene has visuals of a temple in the backdrop.

Watch the clip below:

The propaganda thus far evolves into full-fledged bigotry towards the climax. At the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir, where Indian Hindu Armymen are shown raping local Muslim women, Bharat manages to trap Khalid and his group, including Preeti. As he flogs a chained Khalid, a woman from the Pakistani side screams, “Don’t dare touch a Musalman fauji or you will be killed.”

Bharat slaps the woman and she falls on the ground. An angry Preeti retorts, “Auraton par zulm karna Hindu qaum ki purani riwayat hai aur ye main achi tarah jaanti hun” (It’s an old tradition among Hindus to beat up women and I know it very well).

Bharat doesn’t respond to the jibe, and taunts her instead: “Maathe par bindiya, man mein Musla? Chhi chhi chhi” (Bindi on forehead, Muslim man in heart? Shame). Bharat asks Preeti to spit on Khalid’s face. Instead, Preeti kisses Khalid in front of everyone present and spits on Bharat’s face.

Watch the clip below:

In the end, Preeti declares that she will discard her identity as “Hindustan’s daughter” and live and die as “Pakistan’s daughter”.

Despite displaying such bigotry and pushing for a conversion agenda, in not only Border but also many other films, the film’s lead actors Sana Nawaz and Shaan Shahid have been offered major roles in Bollywood. 

Shaan has a long history of making Anti-India and anti-Hindu films as writer, actor and director. Yet, Indian actor Aamir Khan offered him a major role in film Ghajini. Shaan famously rejected the role saying his fans won’t like him to be shown beaten up and killed by an Indian man; Shaan was offered the role of Ghajini in the film.

“I was offered the villain’s character but I told AK [Aamir Khan] that I’ll charge the same amount that was being offered to Surya Sivakumar. He accepted but I asked him to wait for my final answer. After thinking over it for a week I finally had to refuse and that surprised Amir. I humbly thanked him and told him that in playing the villain’s role I would be subjected to humiliation by an Indian hero, and it would mean humiliating both me and Pakistan,” Shahid told Pakistani newspaper Dawn in 2013.

Sana Nawaz was given a Bollywood break in 2007 with film Kaafila, directed by Ammtoje Mann, whose earlier film Hawaayein was based on the 1984 riots.

Sana went on to feature in a Punjabi film in 2013 oppsite Punjabi singer-actor Inderjit Nikku. The film had Akshay Kumar in a special appearance. The film also featured Pakistani comedians Sardar Kamal and Haya Ali.

Can you imagine an Indian actor mouthing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan dialogues (where he or she is not not shown as a negative character but the film’s hero) and getting red carpet treatment in Pakistan? And in not just one film, but repeatedly?

Can you imagine an Indian actress saying ‘Auraton par zulm karna Muslim qaum ki purani riwayat hai aur ye main achi tarah jaanti hun’ and getting lead roles in Pakistan? 

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Swati Goel Sharma is a journalist with close to 10 years of experience with India’s leading publications such as The Times of India and Hindustan Times. She writes mainly on issues concerning the deprived and marginalised groups, women and children.

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