Pakistan's first local feature film to deal with the subject of fundamentalism and militancy, In The Name Of God (Khuda Key Liye), opens in Pakistan today (July 20) on 11 screens in ten cities.

The Urdu-language film is financed by Unilever Pakistan which has sponsored many of the music videos made by its producer-director Shoaib Mansoor. Distribution is by Geo Films, part of the Jang Group, which is one of the largest media groups in Pakistan.

Mansoor, a well-known name on Pakistani television, has credits ranging from music videos to comedy features and serious plays. His three-minute romantic music video Anarkali was budgeted on a par with an expensive Pakistani feature film (ie around $150,000).

It has taken Mansoor over two years to complete In The Name Of God which was filmed in the US and Pakistan. The story follows two musician brothers - one of whom turns to religion while the other goes to study music in the US. However, events after 9/11 land the second brother in serious trouble with US law enforcement agencies and he soon finds himself detained.

A second story-line follows a British-Pakistani girl, who is forced to marry by her parents and sent to Northern Pakistan where she is held captive. According to Mansoor, this film is about the conflict between fundamentalism and liberal values which has divided the world.

The cast includes renowned Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah who plays a senior Muslim scholar and who agreed to appear in the film for free after reading the script. Also starring are Western actors, musicians and sports personalities such as Austin Marie Sayre, Rufus Graham, Angela Williams and Alex Edwards, along with Pakistani actors Shan, Fawad Khan and Iman Ali.

The film has already met some resistance in Pakistan where one individual has asked the Lahore High Court to ban it on the grounds that it promotes terrorism in Pakistan and is anti-Islamic. The court has yet to give its verdict.

It's the first film to be distributed by the Jang Group which has launched a nationwide campaign 'Revival of Cinema in Pakistan'. Extensive press, radio and TV promotions along with all-cast glamorous premiere shows should lend the film a bumper opening.