This 1998 biography revolves around Jinnah’s struggle to gain an independent nation for the Muslims of the sub-continent. In case you missed Pakistan Studies or have been living under an actual rock, Jinnah was an advocate and a politician fighting to safeguard the rights of the Muslims, having seen the brutality and prejudice against them. He aspired for Muslims to prosper and freely practice their religion in an independent state. It is this struggle that Jinnah chronicles.
Jinnah's story takes place in the after-life during modern times through flashbacks after his death in 1948. He tells his life story to a celestial scholar guide. Jinnah looks back at his life, his youth, starting in 1916, his time as an advocate, his political career, his marriage to the Parsee Ruttie, the companionship of his sister Fatima Jinnah, the bloodshed in the fight for independence, and how it was through his stubborn nature and continuous persistence for independence at all costs that the country was finally born in 1947.
It’s an interesting take on the story, portraying Jinnah as an actual human being with doubts, thoughts, and musings rather than the fearless entity that we’re usually told about. He’s shown to be just a person with life experiences and relationships. He just so happens to have also created a country. Or at least that’s the vibe Jinnah was going for. I don’t think it quite hits that mark but the attempt itself is impactful enough.
Jinnah is arguably Christopher Lee’s greatest ever performance. The movie faced some controversy as the people of Pakistan held reservations over Lee portraying their national hero and justifiably so. A film about one of the greatest Pakistanis ever deserves a Pakistani lead. That much is a no-brainer.
Jinnah was never released in theaters and was later released on DVD as a result of Lee’s involvement. Commercially the movie was a total disaster but was well received by critics. The reservations against it aren’t baseless though.
For political junkies, the well-researched governmental machinations should be a source of attraction. It pays a sincere tribute to Jinnah despite its many flaws. But then again, there’s bound to be some disagreement and conflict of interest concerning how a political figure like Jinnah should be portrayed. That much is and will probably always be subjective. Give it a watch and see how you feel about it. Even if you’re not much for patriotism, you might still find something worth enjoying in Jinnah, maybe even Lee’s (rightfully) contentious yet brilliant performance.
by Ahmed Hassan