(Caution: Spoilers Ahead!)
My story is one of confusion, an eternally ambiguous tale about the events of my life and how they cumulated into making me a man desperate for change. To cast further light on this and explain these numerous events would make for an interesting read but would prove diverging from the main point of this article. The need, however, is relevant.
Fall semester 2015 and I am nowhere closer to accomplishing the goals I set for myself in freshman year. A timeline of two years has been sufficient in changing my views and perceptions of this World completely and has, to reiterate, made me a man longing for something different. A man desperate to escape, struggling to find a way to keep himself sane. I was always an admirer of cinema and the different stories it offers. I attribute a major portion of my education, views and personality to films and the values they instil. It is an art I have always aspired to interpret.
The conclusion: I resorted to watching movies at the cinema. Alone.
Why alone? It is not because I generally am socially reserved. It is more so because I want to watch these films to get a great experience of cinematic art. If someone wants to attend for the same reasons, they are more than welcome to join. It is a costly obsession, I admit. Costing money and time. The experience however, may just be enough to outweigh the costs. I decided to start by watching a film which I had been longing to watch since I saw its trailer in December 2014. A movie whose production design, it’s ambitious crew and worthy story caught my immediate attention. A movie named ‘Moor’.
The title is a word in Pashto meaning ‘mother’, a word which encompassed many elements in the movie. It was the mother of the main lead in the movie who nurtured him and raised him to live a great life. Over the course of the movie, however, different elements were also given a motherly status, Mother being the nation people live to serve. Mother being the railway system of a country on which so many lives are dependent to this day. In my opinion: Love, respect and allegiance towards a ‘mother’ is the main driving force behind the movie.
The lead character Ehsaanullah Khan, played by Shaz Khan, is shown to be a man of conflicting morals, someone who cannot distinguish between good and bad, a man with whom I could easily relate to. As the story unfolds, Ehsaan is devastated to hear of the passing of his mother- an event which leads to a family gathering in a small town in Balochistan.
Enter Balochistan: A land over looked and ignored, a land with a vast and beautiful natural landscape. It is also a province struggling with corruption and Government inefficiency. The biggest achievement of Moor is that it captures and emphasizes both with one complementing the other. It is in the small town of Khost, on the fractured Bostan-Zhob railway line, where a small station master is shown, struggling. He is suffering from the recent passing of his wife and his coming to terms with his brothers’ diabolical scheme of dismantling and selling components of railway lines, all while working on maintaining his relationship with his estranged son.
The station master, Wahid, also has haunting memories from a dark past. His mother died when he was young, an incident for which he got the blame. He fell in love with a woman and longed for a small, peaceful life which made him a target of persecution and taunts by his brother. Wahid now wants to heal his relationship with his son. Ehsaan, however, has resorted to a dark path of ambition by cheating. He became a partner in crime by establishing a business providing services in forgery and fake documentation.
A standout focus of the film is the everlasting conflict within people which drives them to choose right or wrong. The story becomes a battle of two men with themselves. It tells of Wahid, who manages to defeat his lust and desire of a wealthy life and focuses on salvaging his son. It tells of the son who does exactly the opposite and then suffers, only to find solace in the arms of his welcoming father. The film ends on a positive note with the antagonists having been dealt justice.
I have long considered Pakistani cinema incapable of making a worthy film. Moor, with its captivating scenery and impressive score, has changed that perception. Director Jami has made full use of a beautiful landscape and a talented cast to deliver a truly outstanding cinematic experience. Watching this movie at a nearby cinema more than made up for an exhaustive day at university. I was absolutely delighted to hear of its submission as Pakistan’s entry for the Best Foreign Language film category at the 88th Academy Awards. I wish it the best of luck.
The ending credits included footage of Pakistani railway stations and trains over the decades followed by a dedication to the hardworking men of the railway industry. A great start to my newest obsession, I must say.