A Mighty Heart- when Hollywood almost came to Karachi

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2002, I stood at the gate of my rented house in Karachi, watching my friend Danny Pearl juggle a notebook, cellphone and earpiece as he bounded over to a taxicab idling in the street. He was off to try to find the alleged al-Qaeda handler of “shoe bomber” Richard Reid in Pakistan. “Good luck, dude,” I called, waving cheerfully as he strode off, a lopsided grin on his face. His pregnant wife, Mariane, stood smiling and waving beside me as the taxi pulled away. A gaggle of parrots swooped through the trees above, squawking in the late afternoon sun.

Disregarding for a while, the subject matter of the movie, I decided to watch ‘A Mighty Heart’ for the simple reason that it was shot in Karachi. I was in for a disappointment. The movie, starring Angelina Jolie was majorly shot in Pune, India because the producers didn’t consider Karachi a safe location. While many a fan of the diva may have been greatly disappointed at this decision, it was the movie itself that disappointed me.

While I wholeheartedly condemn Daniel Pearl’s murder and console with his widow and the child, I see no point in sensationailsing such a sensitive issue. Thanks to the movie, Daniel Pearl has been eternetised, yet no one will remember Saud Memon nor the countless unidentified citizens who have been mysteriously missing for a long time. Not only that, Hollywood has successfully tarnished what little dignity we as the citizens of Karachi had.

Surprisingly Asra Nomani agrees with me.

When I read it last summer, I felt as though I’d been punched in the gut. I sat across from British actress Archie Panjabi, who had been dispatched to my home in Morgantown to learn to play me. I lamented that none of the characters were fully developed, least of all Danny.

When I watched the movie last month, I was relieved that I wasn’t a servant girl, as I felt an early script had it. So I wrote to a producer, “Thumbs up okay on my end.” But I wasn’t being true to myself. I was reacting to the power and seduction of Hollywood.

11 Comments so far

  1. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 1:54 am

    Sid, don’t take this the wrong way, but how many times will we discuss this subject.

    We have already discussed it three-four times….now, its time to give it a rest.

  2. Straight Talker (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 2:18 am

    “I see no point in sensationailsing such a sensitive issue”.

    That was a commercial movie made to make $$$$$…. and not to please us Pakistanis. So stop overreacting and accept the reality.

  3. contractor (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 2:20 am

    @Arsalaan, could you post the links to where we’ve discussed this before — I can’t recall so please jog my memory – I’d be interested in reading the previous discussions on this!

  4. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 4:02 am

    Arsalan bhai,Goray k Chamri me boht taqat hay, achay achay parhay likho ko attract karleyti hay.

    @thaikaydar bhai,visit the following link:


    Mr.Nijad refused othewise I could prefer Mr.Stone over XYZ’s documentary

  5. jacktheripper (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 5:59 am


    the same director WINTERBOTTOM made the documentary ROAD TO GUANTANAMO BAY as well.

    this movie was based on three british asians who were in afghanistan at the time of talbans’ fall and ended up in guantanamo bay.


    he showed the reality in that movie, if you havent seen the said movie than you should.

    Winterbottom was in karachi when daniel was kidnapped and then finally murdered, winterbottom followed and witnessed all this very closely.

    Winterbottom is an english director but he didnt give a damn when Ken bigley(english engineer)was kidnapped and then beheaded by the iraqi insurgents though.

  6. ALAM (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 6:02 am

    Salughter a guy, and then demand no one should show (errr….sensationalize) the story….Nice set of moal standards

    I am no fan of Daniel Pearl (or the allegedly sexy Julie) or the movie, but give them a slack. Seeing a video of beheading a man makes anyone jump on his seat. It was traumatic event, and deserves to be made into a film.

    Heck, we have even made a movie on the fake execution of poor Salman Rushdie. Talk about making something fake a sensational thing !

  7. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 11:21 am

    Contractor, here are the links:




    Of these three, one is of MB’s, other by Mansoor and third by Xil-e-Ilahi. And, now Sid has just done the forth installment.

    Hope these suffice.

  8. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

    arsalan bhai kia aap ne apna ghar(blog) bech dia? :-)

  9. Hasan Zuberi (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

    The most interesting character of the whole “Daniel Pearl” saga was Musama’t Asra Naumani an acclaimed & trained spoof-goat.

    and i guess the lines which SID used are from her infamous diaries.

    DIG Manzoor Mughal also failed to acknowledge the sofisticated intelligence gathering equipment they found at Asra / Daniel’s residence in DHA, after Daniel’s disappearance.

    As for Saud Memon, tou:

    ” Girtay hain sheh-sawar hi maidan-e-jang mai,
    Woh tuful hi kiya giray jou ghutnoun kay bul chalay ”

    May Allah give eternal peace to his soul (Ameen)

  10. Balma (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

    Asra Nomani bhee aik maha-lafangee hae.

  11. shobz (unregistered) on September 1st, 2007 @ 7:20 am

    i remember meeting asra at a party before all these events took place. she was high on something. however i found her to be quite friendly (Despite being in a different state of mind at that time).

    “a mighty heart” wasn’t allowed to shoot any scenes in karachi because the government did not permit them. brad and angie wanted to shoot the movie in karachi for authenticity but then musshy refused permission. i dont blame him coz it would have been a big problem for everyone.

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