Jinnah (1998)



Director:  Jamil Dehlavi.

Cast:   Christopher Lee (Mohammed Ali Jinnah), James Fox (Mountbatten), Maria Aitken (Edwina), Shashi Kapoor (Narrator), Richard Lintern (Jinnah, Younger), Shireen Shah (Fatima Jinnah),  Robert Ashby (Nehru), Indira Varma (Ruttie Jinnah), Sam Dastor (Gandhi), Shakeel (Liaquat Ali Khan).

Biopic of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of the Muslim state of Pakistan through a bloodless freedom movement.


Good movie.  It provides the Pakistani view of the creation of Pakistan and the role of Jinnah in that process.  It also reveals the story of the six million Muslims at the hands of Hindu fanatics during the creation of the nation of Pakistan.

The story is told in flashbacks.  The start is a little jumpy, but it soon settles down.  The start begins with the end, in Karachi, Pakistan, September 11, 1948 with the death of Jinnah.  Statements from characters reveal that Jinnah was almost humorless man.  He was a lawyer and politician with very controlled emotions. They also mention that his sister, Fatima, was very helpful in the success of his cause. 

Also previewed were the attacks by the Hindus against the Moslems that would accumulate to holocaust levels of 6 million Muslim deaths. The Hindus would shout "cow murderers" as they attacked the Muslims.    

In Darjeeling in 1916 the lawyer Jinnah falls in love with Ruttie, a 16 year-old Parse girl.  But her father was opposed to the Muslim Jinnah courting his daughter.   Jinnah leaves in a huff.

When Ruttiei becomes 16 years old she leaves home and seeks out Jinnah.  She finds him demanding that Indians be allowed to be officers in the British army fighting in World War I.  Ruttie converts to Islam and marries Jinnah. 

Bombay, 1920.  Jinnah speaks at a political meeting where he demands that Hindus and Muslims stand together.  Gandhi speaks in agreement, but his tone is very patronizing to Jinnah, who becomes angry with Gandhi, who actually is the newcomer, not he; it was Jinnah who helped  build the Congress Party.  It is apparent that the Muslims are afraid of losing their position of power in Indian society.  After all, they had ruled India long before the Brits. And Jinnah believed that the strategy of non-violence was splitting the movement for independence.  The non-violent movement was too Hindu influenced with Hindu religious symbolism.

Jinnah leaves the Congress Party. 

Ruttie is diagnosed with cancer and has to use morphine for the pain.  Jinnah lovesher very much but he was so busy that he was away for long periods of time and was emotionally limited because he says he never taught himself to show his love.  Ruttie dies.

London, 1931.  Dr. Ighal, the poet, tells Jinnah that there is a need for a Muslim Pakistan.  He urges Jinnah to go back to India and carve out a country for Muslims. 

Lahore, 1946.  His daughter Dena wants to marry a Parse.  Jinnah forbids the marriage with the threat that she will not have a father if she marries the man.  When the daughter objects that he married a Parse, he responds that her mother had converted to Islam. 

In elections the Muslim League wins in the Punjab, Bengal and the frontier.  British Viceroy Mountbatten acknowledges that Jinnah now has ammunition to break away from India.  After some resistance, Mountbatten tells Jinnah that he concedes the creation of Pakistan.  He appoints a Partition Commission to mark out the borders.  The Hindu fanatics respond with violence, including an attempt to assassinate Jinnah. 

Mountbatten decides to speed up the independence of Pakistan by eight months.  Jinnah feels that this move is an attempt on the part of Mountbatten to force Pakistan into defeat.  He believes it leaves no time for Pakistan to prepare for independence.  When Muslims in the army threaten to mutiny, Mountbatten backs down.  But the violence continues. 

The Indian leader Nehru has an affair with Mrs. Edwina Mountbatten, apparently with the blessing of her husband.  She remarks that Mountbatten has lent her to Nehru.  Love letters between Nehru and Edwina fall into the hands of the Muslims and some want Jinnah to use them to blackmail Mountbatten for more favorable terms.  Jinnah refuses to use the letters.

Jinnah becomes the Governor General of Pakistan.  And the violence against Muslims still goes on.  Mountbatten promises complete army support to protect the Muslims, but he never actually delivers such support.  The province of Kashmir is given to India instead of Pakistan.  (Three wars are fought over the Kashmir province.)  Jinnah remarks that Mountbatten has deceived us and  brands Mountbatten an enemy of Pakistan.  The division of land leaves Pakistan without a single major army arsenal and opens the Muslims to genocide.   The British General Gracie, commander of an army force in Pakistan, but he refuses to fight his fellow British officers in the Indian army.  The end result was that the British decided not to stop the slaughter. 

September 11, 1948, Karachi.  Jinnah died at the Governor General's house. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 



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