Silent Waters

  • 2003
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

The traumatic internal violence that followed the 1947 partitioning of India into a brand-new country — Pakistan — comes back to haunt a Muslim widow in this rare, wrenching drama from Pakistani director Sabiha Sumer. Charkhi, Pakistan, 1979: Ayesha (Kirron Kher) is a devout Muslim widow who supports herself and her grown son, Saleem (Aamir Malik), by...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The traumatic internal violence that followed the 1947 partitioning of India into a brand-new country — Pakistan — comes back to haunt a Muslim widow in this rare, wrenching drama from Pakistani director Sabiha Sumer. Charkhi, Pakistan, 1979: Ayesha (Kirron Kher) is a devout Muslim widow who supports herself and her grown son, Saleem (Aamir Malik), by offering Koran lessons to the children of the village. At first, Saleem appears to be a fairly ordinary teenager who uses his daily visits to the mosque as a pretext to visit his girlfriend, Zubeida (Shilpa Shukla). The overthrow of Bhutto's government two years earlier by the Islamicist General Zia-ul Haq, and the subsequent arrival of Rashid (Sarfaraz Ansari) and Mazhar (Adnan Shah), two fiery fundamentalist revolutionaries, however, heralds a radical change in Saleem. He and a few of the town's other young men are soon gripped by a religious fervor that leads them to join Rashid and Mazhar in their attempt to bring radical Islamic law to these fallen people. They demand that shop merchants shutter their shops to pray at the mosque, and heighten the wall surrounding the girls' school in order to protect their modesty. Ayesha is disturbed by the changes she sees in her son, but her personal concerns are soon eclipsed by a larger conflict when it's announced that Pakistan will allow the Sikhs forcibly relocated to India in 1947 to visit their old places of worship. It's been 32 years since the partitioning ripped this tight community in two, but for many the wounds have still not healed. Looting and the kidnapping of women was rampant on both sides of the newly established border, and many Sikh husbands and fathers saw no other option than to force the women of their families to commit suicide out of fear that they'd soon be defiled by the approaching Muslims. Nevertheless, many Muslims, Ayesha included, welcome their former neighbors, but others, like the chauvinistic Rashid and his band of religious thugs, start looking for trouble. Meanwhile, Jaswant (Navtej Johar), a Sikh pilgrim whose family once lived in the village, begins asking questions concerning the whereabouts of the sister he believes escaped their father's "protection" and may now live in Charkhi as a Muslim. Winner of the Golden Leopard at the Locarno film festival, this gripping and ultimately tragic film serves two very important functions. It highlights a still shadowy moment in the creation of Pakistan that saw the abduction of nearly 100,000 Sikh and Muslim women in both India and Pakistan, while tracing the roots of the radical Islamicist movement that will play a crucial role Pakistan's future. (In Punjabi with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The traumatic internal violence that followed the 1947 partitioning of India into a brand-new country — Pakistan — comes back to haunt a Muslim widow in this rare, wrenching drama from Pakistani director Sabiha Sumer. Charkhi, Pakistan, 1979: Ayesha (Kirro… (more)

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