Jinnah (film)

Jinnah (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jamil Dehlavi
Produced by Jamil Dehlavi
Screenplay by Akbar S. Ahmed
Jamil Dehlavi
Narrated by Shashi Kapoor
Music by Nigel Clarke
Michael Csányi-Wills
Cinematography Nicholas D. Knowland
Edited by Robert M. Reitano
Paul Hodgson
The Quaid Project Limited (UK)[1][2]
Distributed by Dehlavi Films Productions
Release dates
  • 7 November 1998 (1998-11-07) (UK)
Running time
110 minutes
Country Pakistan
United Kingdom
Language English
Box office 1.5 crore (US$220,000)

Jinnah is a 1998 epic biographical film which follows the life of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was directed by Jamil Dehlavi; and written by Akbar S. Ahmed and Jamil Dehlavi.


The film opens with the words of Professor Stanley Wolpert:

Few individuals significantly alter the course of history.
Fewer still modify the map of the world.
Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.

The film begins with the events surrounding the death of Jinnah. On 11 September 1948, the ailing Jinnah's plane lands at Karachi Airport from Quetta where he was retreating at higher altitude in Ziarat. Jinnah's deteriorating health had led doctors to urge him to go to Karachi. On his way to Governor House Jinnah's ambulance breaks down with engine failure, where fate leaves the dying Quaid of Pakistan in a state of confusion.

The film then cuts to a heavenly place where Jinnah is awaiting the final judgement on his deeds, where it is found that the celestial bureaucrats in charge have misplaced Jinnah's life-file and the whole heavenly computer network is down. With nothing but time on his hands, Jinnah has to answer the questions of his life asked by the heaven guide or Narrator (Shashi Kapoor) in order to decide where Jinnah should be sent, to Heaven or Hell.

The guide takes Jinnah to 1947 where, at the Simla conference with Lord Mountbatten, Jinnah demanded a homeland for British Indian Muslims. After World War II, the British Imperial Government intends to withdraw grant independence to the subcontinent. This would mean a Hindu-dominated state. Religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims that were already increasing further erupt into violence throughout the subcontinent, leading to the idea of the partition and dissolution of British India. Jinnah's sister Fatima Jinnah starts to campaign for Muslims and is arrested by an Indian Imperial Police officer for inciting Muslims. In a meeting with Mountbatten, Mohandas Gandhi(Mahatma Gandhi) proposes making Jinnah the first prime minister of the Union of India in order to avoid the formation of two states instead of one, but Jawaharlal Nehru opposes the idea. Jinnah in any case refuses the offer and says, "Why do you want to force reluctant partners into a marriage?" He argues that by encouraging the Muslims to live in a separate country, violence will abate.

Flashbacks resume when the Guide recounts the marital life of Jinnah, when he fell in love and married a Parsi named Rattanbai Petit, later known as Maryam Jinnah, against the will of her parents, mainly on grounds of religion. In 1922, Jinnah faces political isolation as he devoted every spare moment to be the voice of moderation in a nation torn by Hindu-Muslim antipathy. This created tension between Rattan and Jinnah, which made her alcoholic. She finally leaves him with their daughter in September 1922, and they eventually separate in 1927. Ratti died of cancer on 18 February 1929. The death of Ratti had a huge impact on Jinnah's life. Allama Iqbal writes to Jinnah to run the Muslim League and fight for Pakistan. Initially, Jinnah refuses but accepts after the betrayal of the Indian National Congress. He went to back to British India from the UK in order to start political journey of two nation theory. In 1940, the Muslim League annual conference is held from 22–24 March. Jinnah addresses thousands of Muslims and gives them the assurance of the birth of Pakistan.

Guide questions Jinnah as to who he loves the most apart from Ratti and Fatima. He then remembers his daughter who married a Parsi boy without his permission.

While addressing a Muslim League conference in 1947, rebel Indian Muslims who were not in the favor of Pakistan attack the conference, arguing that if Pakistan is to be a Muslim state it cannot give equal rights to women and non-Muslims. However, the independence of Pakistan was carried out and Guide and Jinnah saw the massacre of Muslims in migration done by Hindus and Sikhs. Jinnah is sworn in as the first Governor-General of Pakistan and announces Liaqat Ali Khan as the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.

After independence and the end of British rule, Pakistan stands as a new nation and sanctuary for the Muslims of the subcontinent. Jinnah is given the title of Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan. Jinnah waits for the first train carrying Muslims who left India for Pakistan, but when the train arrives, they are all found dead save for one infant child. Fatimah and Lady Edwina Mountbatten visit refugees and Iris learns the importance of independence. Mountbatten betrays Jinnah as the Hindu Maharaja, Sir Hari Singh, stalls his decision on which nation to join. With the population in revolt in October 1947, aided by Pakistani irregulars, the Maharaja accedes to India; Indian troops are airlifted in. Jinnah objects to this action, and orders that Pakistani troops move into Kashmir. This leads to a war between India and Pakistan then and afterward from time to time in the Kashmir conflict.

The film jumps into a final fictional scene of Lord Louis Mountbatten (last Viceroy of British India) in a Heavenly Court. Jinnah is fighting a case against him over his betrayal. The film ends with Jinnah and his angel judge traveling back in time to the scene of Muslim refugees. Jinnah expresses his sorrow over the plight of the refugees and result during the division of Punjab. They chant "Pakistan Zindabad" and "Quid-e-Azam Zindabad" in response which ends the film.



Despite the early criticism of the movie, it received an overwhelmingly positive response in Pakistan. Christopher Lee spoke highly of the film, calling his performance in it the best of his career as well as stressing the importance of the film.[3][4]

The most important film I made, in terms of its subject and the great responsibility I had as an actor was a film I did about the founder of Pakistan, called Jinnah.

It had the best reviews I've ever had in my entire career - as a film and as a performance. But ultimately it was never shown at the cinemas.


  1. Akbar S Ahmed (10 November 2015). "Leghari and the making of 'Jinnah'". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  2. Farhana Mohamed. "" Jinnah": A Celluloid Salute to the Giant". Pakistan Link. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  3. Lindrea , Victoria (11 October 2004). "Christopher Lee on the making of legends". BBC. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE_1ofnBFos


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