‘THE MAURITANIAN’ IS FAR REMOVED FROM THE RUN-OF-THE-MILL FILMS ABOUT TERRORISM - The Daily Guardian
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‘THE MAURITANIAN’ IS FAR REMOVED FROM THE RUN-OF-THE-MILL FILMS ABOUT TERRORISM

Murtaza Ali Khan

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When the noted French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim received the script for “The Mauritanian” he was expecting another run-of-the-mill Hollywood script propagating a familiar sense of Islamophobia. For the last decade ever since his breakthrough performance in the celebrated French filmmaker Jacques Audiard’s prison drama “A Prophet”, Hollywood had been offering the same kind of roles over and over again. One opening the script when he came across the word “Guantanamo” his apprehensions were more or less confirmed. But to his great surprise, he discovered something very different. The character offered to him, Mohamedou Ould Slahi is a real person who isn’t a terrorist but was simply accused of being one. 

Mohamedou, a Mauritanian man on whose memoir the film is based, was deemed guilty by the US authorities through some vague association. As a result, he was imprisoned for over 14 years without any trial in Guantanamo Bay where he was constantly subjected to torture and abuse by US soldiers. He was finally released in October 2016. In Rahim’s words, “It’s the first time I see a Hollywood movie with a sympathetic Muslim at the centre.” And Rahim, to his credit, plays Mohamedou as a gentle soul who somehow keeps his sanity intact despite years of horrific treatment. The Mauritanian, directed by Kevin Macdonald, stars the legendary Jodie Foster in the role of the no-nonsense defence lawyer who fights for his release with Benedict Cumberbatch essaying the part of the military prosecutor Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch. 

There is no denying that a lot changed after 9/11 as the world became far more paranoid than it had ever been. Soon after the tragic events of September 11, the western world started witnessing a dramatic rise in Islamophobia. Now, according to Wikipedia, “Islamophobia is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice against the religion of Islam or Muslims in general, especially when seen as a geopolitical force or the source of terrorism.” The increase in Islamophobia could be attributed to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda. Hollywood, of course, played its part through its stereotypical portrayal of Muslims and Islam in countless films. And it was until Mira Nair’s 2012 film “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” that the issue got properly addressed by Hollywood.  

On the other hand, Bollywood filmmaker Kabir Khan highlighted the issue in his 2009 film “New York” through the character of Sameer Sheikh, essayed by John Abraham, who Sam gets arrested and detained for nine months as a suspected terrorist. Though he is eventually released due to lack of evidence, the impact of being detained and tortured permanently changes him in ways that are difficult to comprehend for those surrounding him. A couple of years before the Kabir Khan film, the noted Pakistani director Shoaib Mansoor made “Khuda Kay Liye” which presents a graphic account of a man getting detained and tortured for a year at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp due to his Islamic background after the US authorities receive a false complaint from his neighbour.

But, in many ways, The Mauritanian stands out in its depiction of the atrocities that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have undergone over the years. For, Mohamedou’s 2015 memoir titled “Guantanamo Diary” is a testament to what he had to experience for 14 years of his life. He wrote the book in 2005 in Guantanamo Bay but each page had to be submitted to military censors. A total of 2,500 redactions were made before releasing the manuscript to his attorneys seven years later. So, the 2015 edition which went on to become an international bestseller was heavily redacted. He was even prohibited from receiving a copy of his published book while imprisoned. It was only in 2017 that it was republished with redactions fully removed. While the Biden administration has declared its intention to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp there is no certainty that it is going to happen any time soon. But, Mohamedou’s story of redemption certainly gives one hope.

The Mauritanian is far removed from the run-of-the-mill Hollywood films we have become accustomed to watching with the theme of global terrorism at its core. Kevin Macdonald and his team of writers offer something refreshingly different. Here is a deeply humanistic film that isn’t afraid to question the dubious role played by the US authorities in destroying the lives of innocent people like Mohamedou. It exposes how both the Bush as well as the Obama administrations kept prolonging Mohamedou’s ordeal at Guantanamo Bay. Perhaps, it’s for this reason the film didn’t find much traction with the members of The Academy despite receiving multiple Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. The performance by Tahar Rahim (who interestingly stars as the con artist and serial killer Charles Sobhraj in the Netflix series “The Serpent”) certainly deserved an Oscar nomination for portraying the part of Mohamedou Ould Slahi with such great conviction. Also, the deeply nuanced performances by Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch deserved more attention.

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SHWETA AND ABHINAV’S ESTRANGED RELATIONSHIP CAUGHT ON CCTV

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Actress Shweta Tiwari and Abhinav Kohli’s estranged relationship has caught attention on social media. Abhinav Kohli has shared some videos on his social media account. Shweta Tiwari shared CCTV footage from her building’s compound in which Abhinav is seen trying to snatch Reyansh from Shweta which makes her fall. Shweta Tiwari posted a video with a long note on her social media in which she said that Reyansh is scared of his father and he does not want to see him. The tiff came to light when Abhinav Kohli allegedly claimed that Shweta has left son Reyansh in hotel room and left for shoot in Cape Town for a reality show and that is when Shweta lost her calm and posted her side on social media to which again Abhinav Kohli answered in return with a new video.

Shweta posted on her social media, Now let the truth come out!!!! This is why my Child is scared of him! After this incident my child was scared for more than a month, he was so scared that he would not even sleep properly at Night! His had hurt for more than 2 weeks. Even now he is scared of his papa coming home or meeting him. I can’t let my Child go Through this mental trauma.. I try my best to keep him calm and happy! But this Horrible Man makes sure my baby’s mental health goes back to Square one! If this is not Physical abuse then what is!!!!??

After the post of Shweta where Abhinav is seen manhandling Reyansh, Abhinav Kohli shared videos that showed their son Reyansh refusing to go back to his mother. Abhinav claimed that Reyansh had come to stay with him when Shweta had tested positive for Covid last year after which he refused to go back to her despite everyone’s request. The video shows Reyansh telling Abhinav that he wants to live with him. Abhinav shared video on Instagram after Shweta shared CCTV footage of her society.

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NORMALISE DIALOGUES ABOUT LGBTQ+: ANSHUMAN JHA

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NEW DELHI: A gay man and a lesbian woman take a road trip from Delhi to McLeodganj and figure out the real meaning of friendship and love. This is the plot of Anshuman Jha’s latest release, Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele, co-starring Zareen Khan. Jha, who has also turned producer with the film, speaks about how he prepared for his role as Veer and what the message of this film is.

Q: What attracted you towards the story of Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele?

A: Its humane quality. Compassion is at the core of the story. It is about loving without conditions. And it is a journey of discovering love in friendship. That the two protagonists were from the LGBTQ+ community made it that much more complex as a narrative, and therefore attractive. Also, Veer is a vulnerable character, not a heroic one. I like such characters.

Q: How did you prepare as an actor for this film?

A: It began with understanding the inner conflicts of the character, followed by lots of research by meeting a lot of people from the community, trying to understand the psychophysical aspects of being a gay man. I workshopped with Vinod Rawat which helped a lot. I made little changes to my daily existential practices. For instance, Anshuman wears the watch on the left, Veer on the right hand. A combination of all these things helped build towards the shoot. And then instinct took over. I am happiest if people remember me through my characters — I am more excited in you remembering Veer, my character, than you remembering Anshuman. Because Anshuman will die one day but Veer will live forever. So I intended to put every effort I could put in creating him honestly.

Q: What was it like to don the producer’s hat for this film?

A: Challenging. Producing is a thankless job. But I am grateful to be making movies that have a voice. Also, producing means having an eye on the endgame – just making the film well isn’t enough, making sure it goes out in the right manner, on the right platform, is more important.

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MANIESH PAUL PENS EMOTIONAL NOTE ENCAPSULATING FEAR ENGULFING NATION

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MUMBAI: With the second wave of coronavirus, the nation has been distraught constantly surrounded by news of rising cases. Actor and TV show host Maniesh Paul penned an emotional poem enfolding thoughts of every individual.

The 39-year-old star took to Instagram and posted a video featuring a poignant poem aptly capturing the insecurities of the masses.

Speaking about the poem Maniesh Paul shared, “As a nation, we are going through the same emotions, the same fears and insecurities. I had been away from my family for a very long time in the last lockdown and again now as we are locked in our homes, there is no certainty but only hope for a better tomorrow. These daunting thoughts have kept me awake through nights and I sought solace in art by writing this poem offering an outlet to my emotions.”

Flaunting yet another facade of his abilities, the ‘Indian Idol’ host has unveiled his talent of writing through the poem.

Along with the video, he wrote, “Written something…sharing with you all…the times we are living in…watch the full video on my youtube channel.” After captivating the audience with his charm as an RJ, VJ, television host, stage performer, and actor, Paul recently launched his own podcast offering more aspects of his versatility, along with his latest talent of writing. 

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BOLLYWOOD STARS EXTEND HEARTFELT GREETINGS ON EID-UL-FITR 2021

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MUMBAI: As the nation commemorates the auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, scores of Bollywood stars including Abhishek Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, R Madhavan and many others extended greetings on the festival. The ‘Mr India’ actor took to Twitter and shared a post by History Archives’ Instagram page. The post showcased a soulful poem featuring a prayer to exude positivity and light amid the dark times. Along with the post, Kapoor noted, “For the praying and the ones who can’t anymore. For the ones who need prayers a little more than most others in these tough times. For whom there is none left to pray for or with. This Eid, we do. For all of you.”

Urging people to stay indoors and keep their masks on whenever they need to step out, the ‘Dhoom’ actor took to Twitter and shared a picture featuring the crescent moon and a mosque with lamps hanging in the backdrop.

“Eid mubarak. (Folded hands emoticon)#StayHomeStaySafe #MaskOn,” tweeted Bachchan. ‘3 Idiots’ actor R Madhavan took to Twitter and shared a poster to commemorate the festival on social media.

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RAVEENA TANDON SHARES THROWBACK PICTURE OF RISHI AND NEETU KAPOOR

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raveena tandon

NEW DELHI: Bollywood actor Raveena Tandon on Wednesday shared an old picture of late Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor from their wedding day. The actor took to her Instagram handle and shared a black and white photo of the iconic couple. Along with it, she penned a note that read, “Found a gem. A tad too late though. Thank you @juuhithesoniibabbar for finding this pic. Chintu uncle kept asking me for this pic to put in his autobiography.” Raveena further added, “And some how I had lost the original. Found it .so that’s me standing with chintu uncle, at his wedding. Wish I’d gotten it a bit earlier. Nonetheless, it is treasure for me. #treasuredmemories @neetu54.”

In the photo, baby Raveena could be seen adorably smiling for the camera while standing beside Rishi and Neetu on their wedding day. The bride and the groom looked happy as they posed along with guests. Rishi, who was a legendary actor in Indian cinema, passed away on April 30, last year. Prior to his demise, Rishi was in New York for his treatment with his wife. The couple got married on January 22, 1980, and share two children together, Riddhima Kapoor Sahani and superstar Ranbir Kapoor.

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SUNNY SINGH OPENS UP ON HIS PREPARATION FOR ADIPURUSH

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MUMBAI: Sunny Singh is gearing up for his first Pan-India film, Adipurush. The actor is making the most of the lockdown by preparing for his character in the film in order to maintain his physique.

Talking about his prep to play Laxman in Adipurush, Sunny Singh shares, “I have been working out twice a day because they want me to be a little muscular and there is a requirement of size gain for the character. So with the help of my trainers, the current workout routine which I have been following is weight training with a combination of functional training.”

He adds, “Unfortunately, owing to the pandemic while we are not shooting I still have to follow the workout and fitness regime to maintain the physique for the character so that I am in the required shape when we resume the shoot.”

The Sonu Ke Tittu Ki Sweety star will be seen in his first ever Pan-India film in Adipurush, also marking his first foray into a mythological role. 

Sunny Singh often keeps his fans entertained through his social media with his breath taking monochrome pictures and tongue in cheek captions. 

Sunny Singh will be seen as Laxman in the Om Raut directorial which also stars Prabhas, Kriti Sanon and Saif Ali Khan.

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