Bizarre film on Islam’s revenge on Salman Rushdie
AT Karachi’s Nasheman cinema hall the crowds have nopatience.
It is the premiere show of International Guerillas (spelled International Gorillay in the hoardings), a controversial film on Islam’s revenge on Salman Rushdie produced in Lahore and released last month. The British have already refused to air the film on their ethnic Channel Pour television programme, inviting protests from Muslims in Bradford. Also, the cream of Pakistani filmdom—Babra Sharif, Neeli and Javed Shaikh—are all there.
The film opens with a meeting of crooks. Wine glasses clink and the chief complains that Islam, with its hundred crore followers, is threatening Zionists. In comes the Salman Rushdie look-alike-—who some say is better looking than the original—spectacles resting on the bridge of his prominent nose. He accepts the challenge of destroying Islam despite the risk of facing death squads and being called “kutta” for the rest of the film.
His nemesis too appears immediately—a deputy superintendent of Karachi police who has two Robin Hood type brothers-in-law, one of them played by Javed Shaikh. The traitor within the police ranks is a DIG—who happens to be in the pay of foreign agents. The only redeeming feature of the DIG is his stunning sister (Neeli) who is also a police inspector.
A procession to protest Rushdie’s book is being taken out. Neeli and the DSP resign and join the processionists. The DIG fires at the crowd, killing the DSP’S two teenaged children. “Don’t die,” screams Javed Shaikh bending over his niece. Her last words: “No uncle. I won’t live. But that kutta Salman Rushdie must die.”
Back home, the DSP’S wife is bent over the prayer rug, seeking just one favour from her god: death to Salman Rushdie. The campaign kicks off in right earnest with the DSP and his brothers-in-law raiding the house of the traitorous DIG. The honour of shooting him goes to sister Neeli. Sacrifices over, it’s time to hunt Rushdie.
Cut to a tropical island, presumably in the Philippines as everyone disembarks from an Air Philippines jet. Rushdie apparently owns the entire island, including the mansion and helipad, guarded by a regiment of commandos. He even has a renegade Sheikh from Dubai bringing him caches of arms. The commandos have caught a whole clutch of ‘Islamic guerillas’ who’d come to kill Rushdie.
Rushdie appears, all smiles. Under his direction, some of the guerillas are hanged from palm trees ringing the island. The others—of various nationalities—get his personal attention. He picks up a scimitar and slashes their throats one by one. The deed done, he wipes the scimitar with a towel and holds it close to his nose. Deep breath.
“Captain J.C. (for Jesus Christ), I did such a smart thing by hiring you from the army of the yehudis. But tell me what magic have you got that you can catch these Islamic guerillas so easily?” Rushdie asks the chief of his troopers. “I have a marvellous pair of eyes, sharper than X-rays which can tell an Islamic guerilla out of a crowd of thousands,” J.C. boasts. Rushdie wants to see the eyes.
Lightning. A clash of cymbals. The camera zeroes in on a sizeable derriere. Then an ample bosom. “Babra Sharif" shouts the audience even before the face comes on screen. Immediately, the lady breaks into a raunchy dance—in the course of which she changes her cabaret-type attire four times.
She changes garb again. This time for the blue-grey uniform of a Filipino police-woman at the Manila airport immigration counter. Her eyes look piercingly at each new arrival. The DSP and brothers-in-law can’t get past those piercing eyes.
The rest of the film is a medley of car chases, motorcycle callisthenics and pyrotechnics as J.C.’s troopers chase the Islamic guerillas who survive by superior skill and courage and frequently by invoking divine intervention. Till they are caught and brought to the island.
The audience awaits an encore of the scimitar act, but Rushdie has something else in mind. Torture. Electric shocks. The guerillas are helpless.
But just when it seems too late for divine intervention, copies of the holy book appear from all corners of the room and send out beams of electricity that electrocute Rushdie to the accompaniment of wild cheering.
This in a city where the mother of the real Rushdie lives!
SHEKHAR GUPTA in Karachi