The movie,
Silent Waters (Khamosh Pani) is set in a small village of Pakistan and concerns itself with events and issues surrounding post-partition circa 1979. It revolves around primarily two individuals, Ayesha and her son Saleem. 08.jpgAyesha’s husband passed away numerous years ago, leaving the young widow to raise Saleem on her own. She had no family of her own in the village. Ayesha is known as the woman who doesn’t go to the well to fetch water but instead pays a fellow villager to fetch it for her. She hadn’t gone to fetch water from the well for all the years she had lived in the village of Chakri according to the locals.

Her son is a young man in his late teens, a simple village boy with a simple education. He loves this girl who lives in his village, Zubeida, and often waits for her arrival from school in obscure parts of the villages, sometimes the derelict old ruins of an old mosque, or in deserted alleyways playing mournful tunes on his flute in anticipation of her arrival.

There arrive two individuals to the village of Chakri from the city of Rawalpindi who were invited by the Chaudary sahib, the village landlord and a highly respected man of the community. During this time major changes were occurring in Pakistan’s politic landscape, including the hanging of
Bhutto, and the military coup of Zia ul-Haq. These two men came to preach to the village of adopting the rules of Islam and encouraging support in implementing proper Islamic law, the premise on which Pakistan was created in 1947.

manip_04.jpgSaleem gets roped into the ways and chants of these individuals, via his friend and for wishing to attain some role and purpose in life; to become something, as opposed to being nothing. He did not wish to remain a village boy, tending to farms and cattle – especially not since Zubeida was due to begin her further education at a women’s college in Rawalpindi.

The village of Chakri housed a shrine holy to Sikhs, and prior partition for some Sikh’s Chakri was their village. There arrived Sikhs in the city who wished to attend a pilgrimage to the holy shrine, and could do so after 8 years of talks and discussions between those in the government cabinet for Pakistan and India respectively.

During the impending partition, there was a fear of women being abducted by the foreign men. These concerns were for both groups of people, the Sikh and the Muslims. So many women to save the honour and respect of their menfolk, by their own choosing, or by force, were either shot or killed themselves. Most of them committed suicide by jumping into the well. Both groups of the community were in solace from knowing that their women weren’t captured by the “other side”, and therefore their honour as real men was maintained.

But there were women who had been left behind.

I wont ruin it by telling you what happens. I watched the movie last night as part of an Alumni movie night that we have every month. But this by far is the best movie I’ve seen. The movie is in Punjaabi, but subtitled in English. Everyone part of the alumni, of different backgrounds, cultures, faiths and creed thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

It addresses issues and concepts of religious fundamentalism, patriarchy, religious and cultural clashes, religious identity and sacrifice.

I highly recommend it.

Stills taken from here