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Forty years ago, physicist Abdus Salam became the first Pakistani to win the Nobel Prize for physics. His work laid the groundwork for the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson, or the “God" particle, responsible for giving all particles mass. It wasn’t just science that was dear to Salam, though. He was a dedicated Muslim throughout his life. In fact, he was the first Nobel recipient to start his acceptance address with a recitation from the Quran.

But his faith was a source of great pain to him as showcased in Anand Kamalakar’s documentary film, Salam –The First ****** Nobel Laureate. Those six asterisks stand for Muslim—the label Salam couldn’t use because he belonged to a particular sect of Islam, the Ahmadiyya Muslims, whose members are prohibited by law in Pakistan to call themselves Muslims. The 75-minute film, which released last year and premiered on Netflix recently, deftly captures the story of a child prodigy—born in 1926 in a village in the Jhang region—who was as devoted to science as he was to his faith and his nationality.

Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com

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