“The first Muslim to win the Nobel Prize in science had the very word ‘Muslim’ whitened out from his gravestone”
Muhammad Abdu’s Salam, born in January 1926, was theoretical physicist. Calling Salam as the leading figure of Pakistan won’t be a false statement. Salam worked for the Ministry of Science and Technology of Pakistan for more than a decade. His contributions in establishing Pakistan’s Nuclear Power Plants and Research Institutes are unmatched Salam gave up his position in 1974 when the politicians of this country intervened in divine jurisdiction and passed a ruling on the faith of Ahmaddiya Community calling them as non-Muslims by an amendment in the constitution.
Dr. Abdu’s Salam left the country but neither gave away his Pakistani nationality not taken any other nationality in spite of many offers. The unsung Hero of this country received the Noble award for his contributions in the field of Physics in 1979 as a Pakistani. It was Salam’s will that he must be buried in his homeland. The same homeland who treated him as a second class citizen.
The biopic is a straight plot which flows in a linear fashion. After setting up the premise for Salam’s intellectual brilliance the movie talks about his life in a chronological manner. The documentary is a much needed effort which is praiseworthy for all the reasons. Apart from Salam’s life the movie also covers some bitter aspects of Pakistani Society. From highlighting our obliviousness to our heroes to religious extremism. The documentary has a segment which depicts how much unaware is our youth is about what happened to Salam. The footages of the funeral of Salam (1996) clearly shows the descent of our society into religious extremism.
The documentary highlighted the subjugation of minority rights in Pakistan and also shed light on the maligning of Ismaili and Hazara community in Pakistan. The documentary fairly falls short in highlighting the discrimination and violence that the Ahmaddiya community has been facing which was actually the core issue with Salam’s tragedy but the documentary is nevertheless a success.
An article about the film talked about how Salam’s family wanted it to be a happy movie. The director said it is a happy movie but only if you don’t feel the pain and burden of discrimination against the oppressed communities. The documentary covers Salam’s dazzling scientific career to his not so big funeral. For me the most emotional and heart-breaking part of the movie was where one get to see his writing on his personal diary after September 7, 1974. A very true patriot who was also a very religious person just wrote: “Declared non-Muslim, cannot cope”.