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Paradesi garners acclaim at Oxford

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Mohanlal starrer Paradesi, which highlights the agony of some Malayalee Muslims who become aliens in India and Pakistan due to citizenship problems caused by India-Pakistan partition, has been applauded during a special screening at Oxford. The screening was organised by the Muslim Educational Society of Oxford and was attended by several leading academics and scholars.

Paradesi, directed by noted cultural and political activist P.T. Kunhi Mohammad, tells the story of a few unfortunate Malayalees who were rendered homeless during the partition. Thousands of Muslims from Kerala migrated to Pakistan but returned later because of different climate and food and indifferent treatment by the locals. The Indian government treated them as citizens of Pakistan and tried to deport them after the expiry of their visas. Neither India nor Pakistan was willing to accept these people as its citizens.

This touching film unfolds though the life of 80-year-old Valiyakathu Moosa, an Indian Muslim who moves from the Malabar region of Kerala to Karachi during the British rule in search for a job. Mohanlal portrays the character during three stages of Moosa's life: at 35, 60 and 80. As he chose to stay in Pakistan during the Partition, he was viewed with suspicion; when he attempted to returns to his homeland India, he was treated as a citizen of Pakistan. Pakistani authorities treated him as an Indian citizen.

Meanwhile, according to the Kerala government, there are over 400 Indian-born Pakistan passport holders staying in Kerala. Most of them are in the Malabar districts of Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur. Several of these senior citizens have been issued orders for deportation to Pakistan; some of them have obtained a stay from the Kerala High Court. Both the state and central governments are blaming each other for the plight of these 'Pakistani citizens'.

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