Jinnah (1998) Review:
Recently I watched a film about the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, also known as Quiad E Azam (The Great Leader), aptly named Jinnah. I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the film, but I admit I had some prejudgements that weren’t entirely unjustified, which I will explain at the end of the review.
As mentioned the story is about the founder of Pakistan’s life and his struggle for independence. The film does an excellent job in showing the views of those who both wanted a separate Pakistan and India and those who wanted a United India. It also shows Jinnah’s progression from wanting the former to wanting the latter.
The film doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of history, which is an important job. We shouldn’t ignore the darker parts of history just because we do not like them. There are conservatives who oppose Jinnah showing his wife in public and Jinnah takes it in his stride and loudly proclaims his belief in the equality of the sexes; his wife was as devoted to the cause as he was.
With the film being about Jinnah’s personal life too, we also see the trials he endured, from the death of his wife to his daughter marrying a Parsi. He still loved his daughter till the end and while they had technically separated with his wife, he was remorseful when she died. The following quote wasn’t in the film but is appropriate to this situation:
“You know servants in household come to know everything that is going around them. Sometimes more than twelve years after Begum Jinnah’s (Mrs. Jinnah) death, the boss would order at dead of night a huge ancient wooden chest to be opened, in which were stored clothes of his dead wife and his married daughter. He would intently look into those clothes, as they were taken out of box and were spread on the carpets. He would gaze at them for long with eloquent silence. Then his eyes turn moisten…” – Jinnah to his Chauffeur
For me the best moment was a small scene in the film, but what I think is an overlooked part of Pakistan’s history; Fatimah Jinnah, Jinnah’s sister. An accomplished dentist in her own right, the rebutted Jinnah when he suggested to help her get married and have children. She pointed out quite bluntly that she gave that up when she devoted herself to her brother’s cause. She believed in him so much she was willing to give her wants and desires up.
Onto the part of the film I was prejudiced about. The casting. Both Jinnah young and old were portrayed by white British actors. Christopher Lee for the latter and Richard Lintern for the former. Now, I was worried there would be no justice done to Jinnah as a result of this. But I was somewhat proven wrong. I feel like if the film was made today there would be more of a backlash to the casting. However, I do feel Jinnah was done justice. Indeed Christopher Lee regarded it as his best work.
There might have been some mispronunciations of words here and there, but something like that could easily be overlooked. An incredibly underrated film, which I feel should be regarded very highly.
You’d be quite right if you said the film did not have groundbreaking directing or anything from the era of Hitchcock or Kubrick. But this wasn’t supposed to be a film like that. It was a simple story of the struggle Pakistan’s founder had to create his country, and it did not hide the bloodshed at all. Quiet possibly one of the best films I’ve ever seen.