Madinay Wala Jahaaz (The Aeroplane to Madina) is an award-winning Pakistani short film which shows the slow and simple life of the countryside and its collision with the modern urban world when a father and son make the decision to move from their village to the city.
Living a simple life in a village, Bhooral dreams of flying to Medina Al-Munawwara. When an aeroplane flies overhead, the village children run to tell him and he follows it excitedly with them. His son Sanwal is convinced by his friend Qurban to leave their village and lifestyle of subsistence agriculture for the chance of a job in the city. Sanwal then convinces his father that they should move to the city by telling him it would mean the possibility of affording an aeroplane ticket to Medina Al-Munawwara.
They hitch a ride to the city with Qurban and the verdant fields and make-shift hut they are used to is replaced with a small shared room in the chaotic and noisy city. Their wonder and overwhelm at experiencing all these new sights and sounds is captured brilliantly as Qurban takes them on a tour and shows them what city life has to offer, including a trip to Shah Shahab’s shrine for Bhooral.
But life in the city is not all easy. Bhooral finds where they live noisy and claustrophobic, and is called insane by neighbours when he wanders around behaving as he did in the village. His simple and uncomplicated devotional nature doesn’t fit into his new cynical and more streetwise surroundings.
Meanwhile Sanwal struggles with rigid bureaucracy and employers, the prejudice of neighbours towards his father’s innocence and simplicity, negative comments about his own clothing, and even has the only photo of his mother which he has in his wallet robbed when he asks someone for directions.
The film effectively juxtaposes the simple, subsistence lifestyle of the village with the more sophisticated and streetwise urban environment. The responses of wonder and confusion to new experiences as Bhooral and Sanwal explore the city are magic, while the very real disappointments and difficulties they face are a poignant social commentary on the hardness and disconnection of the urban environment, where Bhooral’s simple fitri sweetness is ridiculed and Sanwal’s worth is reduced to being able to tick all the right boxes on government paperwork.
In modern times urbanisation has increased exponentially over recent decades, as fewer and fewer people remain working the land. This film gives viewers a meaningful juxtaposition of the slow and simple life of the countryside, with its limited opportunities and the insecurity of living hand to mouth, and the noisier, dirtier, more complicated and disconnected urban environment with its greater affluence and employment possibilities.