Thursday, June 12, 2008,1:09 am
313: A Review

The blessed month of Shabaan is not far away and once again we shall witness the blessed night of 15th Shabaan. Many of us would spend the night in prayer before our Lord and remembering the Imam of our time [aj]. Many of us would propagate awareness of the Mahdi [aj] to the masses through different resources and means. A group of people chose to propagate the message about the Mahdi [aj] by making a movie called '313'. The number 313 is significant to the return of the Mahdi [aj] as it is the number of commanders of his army as well as his closest companion.

When the trailer was released of the movie there was a huge outcry about the music it had used in the background and whether it was Islamic or not. Many of us took it upon ourselves to label it with the tag of 'Haram' before we even saw the full product. I am not here to discuss whether the music is acceptable or not but to simply give an overview of the movie. Despite the negativity that surrounds it the movie was actually quite good in its script and screening aspect. The script, I thought, was brilliantly executed into a movie and the characters chosen matched in terms of roles. The storyline of the movie seemed quiet simplistic when watching the trailer however the finished product is far from simplistic. The messages, the small statements and other simple things included actually leave the viewer with a lot to ponder over after watching the movie. In my opinion, the production team deserves great credit for their hard work and given that this was their first time with such a project, it is an achievement in every sense.

I am not going to write about the full movie however I will only talk about certain aspects which I found to be really great and the reason why I am doing this is to avoid spoiling it for others who have not seen it.

The idea of a journey undertaken by the youth who is lost to the materialistic aspects of the society and goes on to turn towards the Imam of our time [aj] and to uphold justice in his life by changing his wrongdoings and asking for forgiveness is not easy for everyone. However, what this movie does is give hope to people by an example. In this modern age, the means of conveying a message is not restricted to the pulpit alone. We have to take whatever means there are available and spread the message to the people, however it should be done in the right manner.

What struck me the most in the movie was two things; the way they tackled the questions relating to the Mahdi [aj] in the movie and the way they incorporated the signs before his return in the movie. Both of them are not easy to implement in a movie, they are much easier in a Documentary. The conversations between Sheikh Abbas Virjee who plays the role of Mohsin in the movie and the main character Layth Ali were simply the highlight of the movie. The way he enlightens the youth with the knowledge about the Imam [aj], the understanding the need of reflection and the answers to the complex questions about the Mahdi in a simplistic manner was something which I personally felt made the viewer think more about the Imam of our time [aj].

One of the best scenes for me was in one of the dreams Layth, he sees people praying and the turba turns to gold coins showing how in the time before the zuhoor people would be very much into their wealth rather than their faith. Another such example was when in another dream Layth sees people who come across as pious misusing religion for their desires. The way the director had included these messages into the movie was really great and I think many of these simple messages as a whole made the movie really great. The way of presentation not only opens the eyes of the viewers to reality but it also makes them ponder on whether they are falling in that trap or not.

I am however critical of certain aspects of the movie but overall it was good. What I would advice if the production team were to be start another project is that to work a bit on the camera technique. The changing of the camera angels during the scene was very quick, at times it was instantaneous. Small things like this could have an overall effect on the end product. Another thing I would like to see change in future projects is the aspect of music involved. Regardless of who we are portraying the movie to be for, our style should not mirror that of Hollywood films or otherwise. We should be unique and creative in our approach rather than trying to imitate others.

Lastly the thing which I personally made me think was relationship that I had with my Imam [aj]. In a part of the movie, the Sheikh is giving advice to Layth and he constantly stresses about the relationship of the follower of the Imam with that of the Imam. Further in the movie we do find an example of this when Layth turns to the Imam in his hour of need for help sincerely. This drives home the message for us Shias as to how many of us are sincere in our approach to our Imam [aj]. How many of us can truly say we are upholding the teachings of the Ahlul Bayt [a] in every aspect of our faith? The movie gives food for thought on many points in it, it is upon us as to how much use we make of it.

May Allah hasten the return of the Imam [aj] and may He give us the strength and the patience to endure every tribulation and hardship in the time of occultation and may He raise us to be in the army of Al Mahdi [aj]

posted by Ya_Baqiyatullah
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