International Gorillay (1990)
Cast: Mustafa Qureshi, Babra, Ghulam Mohiudin, Javed Shaikh, Neeli, Afzal Khan
Director: Jan Mohammad
Nutshell: Sensational epic where dastardly Salman Rushdie sets out to destroy Islam
This epic creation made headlines when the British censors refused to allow it a certificate thus officially banning the film outright along with the infamous video nasties. However a month later, following a letter by Salman Rushdie himself, the ban was lifted and Gorillay became perhaps the first film from Lollywood to be screened on mainstream British television.
The film is a fabulous concoction and shows the Islamic world tottering on the brink of an abyss. Rushdie is leading the assault on Islam with his Satanic Verses and is targeting Pakistan (the “fortress” of modern day Islam) because once mighty Pakistan is dealt with, the rest of the Islamic world will hardly stand a chance. Rushdie plans to drive the final nails into the coffin of Islam by opening a new chain of Casino’s and Disco’s spreading contemptible vice and debauchery. Mustafa Qureshi, hen pecked to death by his demented wife, decides to call it a day with his day job at the Police station and induct his unemployed brothers to create a Mujahid (God’s soldiers) trio whose sole aim is to seek out and destroy the despised Salman Rushdie before he manages to destroy all virtue and decency on the planet. The trio have a personal axe to grind as their beloved family cherub was recently slaughtered by Rushdie’s men while protesting Satanic Verses.
Mustafa Qureshi is quite superb as the vengeful elder brother and leader of the Mujahids. Ghulam Mohiuddin delivers a typically charismatic performance, charged with raw power and brooding machismo (!). Javed Shaikh is at his very best – meaning barely tolerable, but it is Gulloo who shines with his spectacular dialogue delivery. Neeli provides a little sparkle and delivers her punch lines with oomph and vigour. Babra plays Dolly, the evil English henchwoman of Rushdie who eventually sees the light and embraces the righteous path in a spectacular scene of dazzling special effects that will have Hollywood turning green with envy. Salman Rushdie, played with great relish by Afzal Khan is of course a man of unsurpassed evil and tortures his hapless victims by forcing them to listen to chapters from his fatwa-inducing book! – a fate worse than death itself.
The film is maniacal high farce and a laugh-a-minute caper as the three Mujahids go undercover to try to discover the evasive Rushdie even showing up in Batman outfits on one occasion to outwit their nemesis…….very appropriate undercover gear as surely nobody would find it at all odd to see three rather portly middle aged men wandering around in Bat-suits!
There are numerous spectacular fight sequences with tons of stunts, explosions and rocket launching in evidence. Neeli and Babra perform some rather atrocious dances to dire sub-disco numbers…..though Madame Noor Jehan is irresistible when she coos “Oh no” in that inimitable sultry manner of hers. The film moves along at a rollicking pace and sizzles with its sheer intensity and dynamism. The direction is sledgehammer subtle as is the norm for Punjabi cinema and the one-liners have to be delivered slowly and deliberately and sometimes even three times in a row so as to not miss their point!
A quite masterful and brilliantly opportunistic film that manages to expertly fictionalize the entire Salman Rushdie Satanic Rites issue and present it as a demented pseudo-religious fairy tale – a stroke of rare genius. An historic Lollywood masterwork not to be missed at any cost.