A documentary on the life and achievements of Pakistan’s Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Abdul Salam, Salam, was screened this week at George Washington University in Washington DC.
The film ‘Salam’ highlights the extraordinary abilities of Dr. Abdul Salam and some of the extraordinary events that took place in his life that are not known to people all over the world in general and in Pakistan in particular.
Dr. Abdul Salam, who put religion and science at the forefront of his life, was born into an ordinary family in Jhang, Pakistan. After earning a master’s degree in mathematics, he received a scholarship the same year, which led him to London for a doctorate, where he demonstrated his prowess in physics and mathematics.
On his return to Pakistan, he was involved in teaching at Government College, Lahore for some time. However, when the Ahmadi sect was constitutionally declared non-Muslim in Pakistan, they decided to leave Pakistan and moved to London when faced with ‘intellectual isolation’. He was the first Pakistani and the fourth South Asian to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Science in 1971.
Dr. Abdul Salam passed away in 1996. At his request, he was buried in his native Pakistan. Dr. Abdul Salam, a Pakistani Nobel laureate who has made astonishing assumptions in the field of physics, is internationally acclaimed. However, due to his affiliation with the Ahmadiyya sect, his services have never been acknowledged in Pakistan and to this day he is mentioned in the Pakistani curriculum.
Not only that, on the orders of the former Pakistani government, the word “Muslim” was erased from the inscription on his tombstone in Rabwah, the first Muslim to win the Nobel Prize.
Directed by Indian-American filmmaker Anand Kamlakar and based on research by two Pakistani teenagers, Zakir Thawar and Omar Wendell, the film tells the story of Dr. Abdul Salam’s success and the tragedy of his life.
Speaking to VOA, the film’s producer and researcher Zakir Thawar said that after reading a condolence article on the death of Dr. Abdul Salam in 1996, the idea of making his story into a film came to his mind. In practice, however, the film debuted in 2004. But, the biggest challenge was to raise money for it.
“We are science students,” he said. Not a professional filmmaker. We started work in 2004. In those days when you used to tell people that we were making a film on Dr. Salam, people thought that we were talking about AQ Khan. Secondly, if Salam was Ahmadi, people would not pay. But slowly the money came and it is safe to say that it is a documentary made with people’s money. “
Much of the film is based on historical photographs and footage of Dr. Abdul Salam’s life, his childhood, his academic and teaching career, and his Nobel Prize.
The film’s researcher and producer Omar Vandal says it took 14 years to compile the material. In 1996, after the death of Dr. Abdul Salam, Zakir and I began research. We searched for images, audio, video content from around the world. He made connections with Dr. Abdul Salam’s family and those who worked with him and then went somewhere and collected all this material so that it could be made into a film.
According to the film’s director Anand Kamlakar, Abdul Salam’s personality and his story are amazing and inspiring. In his words, “We have tried to convey the message from this film that intolerance and prejudice is a criminal act because it does irreparable damage to any country and its young generation.” ۔ ”
The film was presented to the public in Washington DC on a day when the 44th anniversary of the constitutional amendment under former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was completed on September 7, 1974. The sect was declared non-Muslim, and on September 7 this year, the PTI government expelled Atif Mian, a professor of economics at Princeton University and a member of the Ahmadi Jamaat, from Pakistan’s Economic Advisory Council. Expelled after intense criticism and pressure from the side. According to the organizers, though the presentation of this film takes time. But, it was just a coincidence that the film was released that day.
A large number of Pakistani-Americans arrived at George Washington University to watch the film despite the torrential rains. Filmgoers not only appreciated the hard work and dedication of the filmmakers, and the achievements and personality of Dr. Abdul Salam, but also condemned the removal of Atif Mian and the mistreatment of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Hina Saleem, a Pakistani-American affiliated with the World Bank, said: “Atif Mian could have taken the country to a more efficient way to deal with the current financial situation in Pakistan. Imran Khan has fired him and demanded donations from the people. It’s not a strategy. “
Another person in the audience, Ata Khan, said, “Four decades ago, Pakistan lost Dr. Abdul Salam. The world used their abilities. After losing Atif Mian four decades later, Imran Khan has repeated the same tradition of limiting Pakistan’s development.
Hammad Ahmad belongs to the Ahmadi sect and is the imam of the Ahmadiyya shrine. He also came to see this film. Speaking to VOA, he praised the film’s portrayal of various aspects of Dr. Abdul Salam’s personality. However, speaking on the removal of Atif Mian, he said, “These are political issues of Pakistan. As a religious man, Pakistan does not want to interfere in this decision. But he does not agree that decisions should be made on the basis of religion to serve the country. “
Salam Film is the first presentation of the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival starting this week. Films from other South Asian countries, including Pakistan, will be screened at the festival. However, some in the audience also expressed surprise and regret that the film was screened in an isolated place a day before the regular start of the festival, where a limited number of people came to see it.
Some expressed frustration that no one from the Pakistani embassy was present to appreciate the film made by Pakistanis on the life of internationally renowned Pakistani doctor Abdul Salam. However, the organizers said that the reason for presenting the film separately was that after the film, a question and answer session with the film’s producers and director could be held for the audience, so that people could express their views openly. To be able to