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Silent Waters

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Winner of the prestigious Golden Leopard, as well as Best Actress honors for Kiron Kher at the Locarno festival, this powerhouse film about a woman's plight among Islamic radicals SILENT WATERS is the most recent title in the HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH SELECTS series. First Run Features and Human Rights Watch launched a collaboration to bring films dealing with human rights issues to a wider audience. The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival division annually endorses selected First Run titles that shed light on human rights abuses throughout the world.

Set in 1979, in a Pakistan under President General Zia-ul-Haq's martial law, SILENT WATERS begins as a bucolic story about a woman and her son, complete with a wedding celebration worthy of any Bollywood film, and then transforms into an eloquent tale of identity and belonging, faith and radicalism, and love and loss.

Ayesha is a seemingly well-adjusted middle-aged widow whose life centers around her son Saleem, a gentle, dreamy 18 year old. However, as the country embarks on the road to Islamization, political events begin to change the complexion of the town's innocent daily life and of the relationships for those who live in it. Saleem and a few of the town's other young men are soon gripped by a religious fervors. Events escalate considerably when Sikh pilgrims from India pour into the village. When one pilgrim goes looking for his sister who was abducted in 1947, Ayesha's long and sheltered past is brought to light.


A moving portrait of societal and religious discord that, despite its being set a quarter century ago, has resonance today. The forcefulness of its message makes it a rewarding cinematic experience. --Hollywood Reporter

EXTRAORDINARY! It graphically depicts the suffering women have to endure because of religion, politics, and patriarchy. --Spirituality & Health Magazine

Substantial, emotionally detailed. --New York Times

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kiron Kher, Aamir Ali Malik, Arsad Mahmud, Salman Shahid, Shilpa Shukla
  • Directors: Sabiha Sumar
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Punjabi, Urdu
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • DVD Release Date: September 20, 2005
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A0GY2I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,718 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Silent Waters" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Aditya B. Surti on September 28, 2005
Format: DVD
Set in a 1979 Pakistani village, during the regime of General Zia Ul-Haq, this is an absorbing story of a mother and a son who go through the rise of Islamic extremism.
Wanting to do something in his life, the once-upon-a-time-aimless son now has a worthy cause to live for --> he embraces Islamic extremism and aspires to make Pakistan an Islamic state. On the other hand his mother stays moderate and secular with her views and doesn't like her son being a fundamentalist.
The plot revolves around the conflicts between the mother and the son and more significantly focuses on how religion is being misused by the few politicians and religious leaders to wrongfully influence the masses, resulting in a burdensome encumbrance on the free flow of moderate thought, democracy, and secularism.
This movie exemplifies how young adults in the villages all over the subcontinent have been the targets of emerging religious (Hindu and Islamic)extremist & fundamentalist organizations in the last two and a half decades or so.
I recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for an example of the impregnation of the seeds of religious extremism.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rehan Rafay Jamil on September 30, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is undoubtedly one of the most important films of to come out of Pakistan. The film which is set in a small village in Punjab is shaped by the political context of General Zia 's military coup which overthrow Pakistan's elected prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Zia used "Isamic"ideology to justify his rule. There are two parallel but interrelated stories in this movie . On the one hand it is the story about a young village boy (Saleem) and how he gets involved with political Islamists from the city. One the other hand it is about the thousands of sikh, muslim and Hindu women (represented in the character of Salems mother Ayesha)who were either killed or left behind on the wrong sider of the border at partition. The character of Ayesha is played by the superb Indian actress Kiron Kher who is emblematic of the tolerant sufi islam that has historically had such a strong tradition in Pakistan. This is juxtaposed with the new virulent, political Islam imposed by zia-ul haq that the men from Lahore convince Salim to advocate. This is one of the most beautifully made movies on partition and the dispalcement and violence followed it that I have seen.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roland E. Zwick on April 15, 2006
Format: DVD
"Silent Waters" is an eye-opening film about a young Pakistani man who falls under the spell of radical Islam. It's 1979, and there's a move afoot to turn Pakistan into an authoritarian theocracy, one in which only Muslims would be free to practice their religion openly, and the rights of women would essentially cease to exist. Saleem is a good-hearted but somewhat aimless young man who is at first apolitical in his beliefs but who becomes a fervent believer in the cause when a group of young radicals arrives in his village preaching religious solidarity and intolerance. There's an even more interesting back story involving Saleem's mother, a woman who has been carrying a very dark secret around with her for over thirty years, one that goes to the very heart of religious fundamentalism.

The film is, in many ways, reminiscent of "The Shop on Main Street" in that it captures what it is like when a feeling of doom subtly and gradually descends upon a community. Most of the characters in the film go about their daily business without giving much thought or heed to what is about to happen to them until it is already too late to do anything to stop it. In fact, it is the people of good will who just want to be left alone to live out their lives in peace who, by their very obescience and indifference, become complicit in the horror.

Although the acting tends a bit toward the amateurish, wooden and melodramatic at times, and the stages through which Saleem goes from being a disinterested bystander to a fanatical follower are not always as convincing as they could be, "Silent Waters" is a grimly compelling film that reminds us of just how evil and dangerous any type of religious fundamentalism can be.
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Format: DVD
Note: The film is presented in Punjabi and Urdu with English subtitles.

Synopsis: `Silent Waters' (2003) is a thoughtful and timely tale of evolving Islamic politics in Pakistan spanning the time period from the Partition of 1947 on up to contemporary 2003. The story unfolds through the lives of a Mother (Kiron Kher as Ayesha) and her teenage son Saleem (Aamir Ali Malik). Ayesha was a teenager at the time of the 1947 Partition and her experiences of that event are told for the most part through intermittent memories presented as flashbacks. She has kept a secret hidden away from her son and community, a secret that is slowly revealed to the audience as the film progresses. For now we see her as a Muslim widow who adores her son and faithfully teaches the Koran to some of the children in the town.

However when two young Muslim extremist come into their peaceful community and begin to recruit the men into their militant Islamic philosophy long forgotten wounds begin to resurface in the minds of those old enough to remember the turmoil and heartbreak of 1947. As Saleem's commitment to the movement intensifies his once close and loving bond with his Mother is severely strained. Emotions eventually boil over when a large group of Sikh pilgrims come into town to visit one of their holy sites. As things go from bad to worse Ayesha's secret past becomes known, changing her life and her son's life forever.

Critique: `Silent Waters' is a film that both entertains and informs. The production values are high, the acting solid, especially the performance by Kiron Kher and the storyline will hold your interest from beginning to end.
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