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Terrorism undoubtedly is an emerging topic of this century and post- 9/11 the terrorism wave has increased several folds and since this topic has been used by many international filmmakers to create mainstream movies on.
Film 1: Phantom
Phantom movie released in 2015, Phantom is a terrorism thriller, based on the backdrop of Mumbai attacks on Taj in Mumbai, India. The film is based on a real life incident which resulted n the killings of hundreds of Indians and caused even more injuries than the causalities. Mumbai attacks were not restricted just to the Taj building but also extended to other places such as embassies, stations, hotels and other spots nearby. The attacks were consistent and the attackers wanted to threat the government and aimed to kill as many people as possible. The people who were killed also included many tourists in the country. It was a nightmare for the Mumbai city and the angst that it created a sentiment of terror is still relevant in the minds and souls of the people affected by the attacks and the terror they created. Phantom is directed by the popular Bollywood director Kabir Khan, who has made films like ‘Ek the Tiger’, ‘New York’, ‘Kabul Express’ and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’. The director has more often than not worked in such themes. His films revolve around the global themes of extremism, terrorism and violence.
The film stars Bollywood popular actors, Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif in lead role. Both played Indian officers who plan to take revenge from the terrorists who were involved in the attacks. They make a team and travel all the countries in the world where they can beat and punish the terrorists and take revenge from them and win the battle against injustice. Saif and Katrina specially trained in learning the using of weapons and also learnt different languages like Arabic.
Characters are strong and in hard-hitting mode. There are terrorists, intelligent officers, Pakistani characters, Indian Characters, Arabic Characters and British Characters as well. The film is a globe-trotter. Different cultures have been shown in the film but Muslims have been portrayed in the most negative night especially Pakistanis.Except for the Afghan Jalebi song the soundtrack is quite mediocre, other songs like Saaware are soothing and light in tone. Something not many expect from a thriller genre film. However the background score is gripping of the film and provide the thrill to the film. In the second half music score plays a big part.
Film 2: Body of Lies
Body of lies is a film which like every other film has its share own of greatness and mediocrity. Some have more of the former while some have more of the latter. This particular film ‘Body of lies’ released in 2008 starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Russell Crowe, and Mark Strong as the three principals characters of the film, is based on the novel by the very acclaimed internationally and winner of several awards David Ignatius of the same name. Body of Lies is a critically acclaimed and commercially successful film, standing true to its genre theme of an adult thriller. The screenplay is done incredibly of the film. The locations, the movements, sets & camera shots are perfect for the tone and theme of the film which is set in Jordan and Iraq and has the theme of terrorism.
Agenda setting has been done in the film as it can be observed that the framing of the CIA members has been done in such a way that shows them as strong and good light. In a particular scene where the lead character Roger Ferris is seen feeling bad and scared at the same time while seeing local guy who did not obey the CIA team and is beaten to death in return, the scene transcended into a different mood so that the essence of the scene doesn’t get ruined. The arrangements made in another sequence are also praiseworthy as it makes the member of audience cry such as me where an explosive suicidal bomb attack is shown at a crowded area of people who had nothing to do with terrorism and the bad world of intelligence. Props are used perfectly in the movie. Especially in the scenes when diplomats or officials are shown eating or meeting secretly. The lighting used in the film thankfully doesn’t make the film look like a dark thriller. Once in a while has the subject of whether the end legitimizes the methods been conveyed to the fore in such a compelling and ruthless way.
Cultivation theory of media studies can be observed in the film. In the film as they have shown that even if CIA members kill the local people of Muslim countries it’s actually for the betterment of their own self. The killings and beatings if CIA has been justified in many scenes of the film are it in the scenes where Bassin dies after the attacks or scenes towards the climax. Such repeated scenes cultivate the ideas of CIA killings being justified in the name of world humanity which is so clever of the makers.
One thing which excels over everything in the film is its background music and sound. In a chase sequence in the initial part of the film the sound is & music is done terrifically. Music is handled brilliantly. It’s about the elusive incline that exists when those with the best aims start to imitate the strategies of the foe keeping in mind the end goal to overcome them. Body of Lies shows this in ways that are neither evident nor anticipated. The most chilling thing about the film might be its verisimilitude. Where certain shots exists just in the domain of sci-fi, it’s conceivable that things like those portrayed in Body of Lies are going on now in reality.
Cinematography is phenomenal. The camera shots, locations are shown greatly. The wide & aerial shots in the climax just really uplifted the sequence and made the area look more desolated. Overall this thriller’s backbone was the realness of the film be it the locations, languages, costumes and everything else. It’s a thriller with substance and soul. The spine thrilling scenes like the fire scenes are enough however the pace in the starting is a little slow but the film leaves you in-awe and moved with such sincere performances by the cast plus excellent background score and incredible cinematography. Foreign media has mostly portrayed Muslims in a negative light. Such Media artifacts create a negative impression on the overseas viewers such as viewers of UAE & US which are the biggest overseas Bollywood markets.
Framing and Impact
As horrifying and disappointing the portrayal is the impact of these films reach out to overseas audience who create a negative impression for Pakistan and its people. The negative social and economic impact has been extremely obvious apart from the discrimination that we Muslims face abroad. Things need to be change and it can, no matter how long or hard the process would be with the right use of Media and its artifacts. There aren’t two ways about how the negative portrayal of Pakistan has affected Pakistan economically, socially and for Pakistani’s it’s more than just being tagged as terrorists. The issue is that the entire population of a roughly estimated Twenty Two Crores is just type-casted into one bracket. According to Bollywood movies all women in Pakistan are covered in Burkhas and all men wear religious caps and have beards with terrorist involvements. There are simply no ‘impressive’ measures taken to bring Pakistan’s positive points in the forefront and this makes the problem even bigger. Today Media’s power cannot be underestimated and sadly Pakistan’s government is not applying the needed counter narrative through its media to present it to the international audience but create a positive impression of Pakistani and its people. In the second half of the film the Indian team move to Pakistan to avenge Hafiz Saeed who according to them was involved and was the brain child of the entire attack. In these films Pakistanis have been brutally misrepresented and stereotyped as terrorists, over religious and non-trustworthy people. 9/11 Terrorist attack was tragic for America but turned out to be even more horrible for Pakistan & Muslims in the long-run. Pakistanis has so much to offer be it sports, artists, doctors, engineers, comedians, educationists or ravishing scenic views and rich diverse cultures are just type casted into one bracket today by Bollywood and that is the extremist element. Some other shades of Pakistani’s in international media is that of ‘unfaithful’ ‘Conservatives’ and ‘terrorists’.
On a sensitive topic like Terrorism there should be more movies like Body of Lies which at least provide a true and realistic scenario of the world terrorism and intelligence involvements into it. Phantom is good in parts but is extremely derogatory for countries like Pakistan. The dialogues spew hatred and provocation for the extremist’s elements on the both sides of the border. Body of lies has been shot on a large scale and does not based on only one incident but goes beyond and discovers more throughout the film hence Body of Lies is easily the preferred choice over a provocative Phantom from Bollywood.
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