The film opens with the words of Professor Stanley Wolpert:
The film begins with the events surrounding the death of Jinnah. On 11 September 1948, the ailing Jinnah's plane lands at Karachi Airport from Quetta where he was retreating at higher altitude in Ziarat. Jinnah's deteriorating health had led doctors to urge him to go to Karachi. On his way to Governor House Jinnah's ambulance breaks down with engine failure, where fate leaves the dying Quaid of Pakistan in a state of confusion.
The film then cuts to a heavenly place where Jinnah is awaiting the final judgement on his deeds, where it is found that the celestial bureaucrats in charge have misplaced Jinnah's life-file and the whole heavenly computer network is down. With nothing but time on his hands, Jinnah has to answer the questions of his life asked by the heaven guide or Narrator (Shashi Kapoor) in order to decide where Jinnah should be sent, to Heaven or Hell.
The guide takes Jinnah to 1947 where, at the Simla conference with Lord Mountbatten, Jinnah demanded a homeland for British Indian Muslims. After World War II, the British Imperial Government intends to withdraw grant independence to the subcontinent. This would mean a Hindu-dominated state. Religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims that were already increasing further erupt into violence throughout the subcontinent, leading to the idea of the partition and dissolution of British India. Jinnah's sister, Fatima Jinnah, starts to campaign for Muslims and is arrested by an Indian Imperial Police officer for inciting Muslims. In a meeting with Mountbatten, Mohandas Gandhi proposes making Jinnah the first prime minister of the Union of India to avoid the formation of two states instead of one, but Jawaharlal Nehru opposes the idea. Jinnah refuses the offer and says, "Why do you want to force reluctant partners into a marriage?" He argues that by encouraging the Muslims to live in a separate country, violence will abate.
Flashbacks resume when the Guide recounts the marital life of Jinnah, when he fell in love and married a Parsi named Rattanbai Petit, later known as Maryam Jinnah, against the will of her parents, mainly on grounds of religion. In 1922, Jinnah faces political isolation as he devoted every spare moment to be the voice of moderation in a nation torn by Hindu-Muslim antipathy. That created tension between Rattan and Jinnah. She finally leaves him with their daughter in September 1922, and they eventually separate in 1927. Ratti died of cancer on 18 February 1929. The death of Ratti had a huge impact on Jinnah's life. Allama Iqbal writes to Jinnah to run the Muslim League and fight for Pakistan. Initially, Jinnah refuses but accepts after the betrayal of the Indian National Congress. He went to back to British India from the UK in order to start political journey of the two-nation theory. In 1940, the Muslim League annual conference is held from 22 to 24 March. Jinnah addresses thousands of Muslims and gives them the assurance of the birth of Pakistan.
Guide questions Jinnah as to who he loves the most apart from Ratti and Fatima. He then remembers his daughter, who married a Parsi boy without his permission.
While he was addressing a Muslim League conference in 1947, rebel Indian Muslims who were not in the favor of Pakistan attack the conference and argue that if Pakistan is to be a Muslim state it cannot give equal rights to women and non-Muslims. However, the independence of Pakistan was carried out, and Guide and Jinnah saw the massacre of Muslims in migration done by Hindus and Sikhs. Jinnah is sworn in as the first Governor-General of Pakistan and announces Liaqat Ali Khan as the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.
After independence and the end of British rule, Pakistan stands as a new nation and sanctuary for the Muslims of the subcontinent. Jinnah is given the title of Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan. Jinnah waits for the first train carrying Muslims who left India for Pakistan, but when the train arrives, they are all found dead save for one infant child. Fatimah and Lady Edwina Mountbatten visit refugees and Iris learns the importance of independence. Mountbatten betrays Jinnah as the Hindu Maharaja, Sir Hari Singh, stalls his decision on which nation to join. With the population in revolt in October 1947, aided by Pakistani irregulars, the Maharaja accedes to India; Indian troops are airlifted in. Jinnah objects to that and orders that Pakistani troops move into Kashmir, which leads to a war between India and Pakistan then and afterward from time to time in the Kashmir conflict.
The film jumps into a final fictional scene of Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (last Viceroy of British India) in a Heavenly Court. Jinnah is fighting a case against him over his betrayal. The film ends with Jinnah and his angel judge traveling back in time to the scene of Muslim refugees. Jinnah expresses his sorrow over the plight of the refugees and result during the division of Punjab. They chant "Pakistan Zindabad" and "Quid-e-Azam Zindabad" in response, which ends the film.Christopher Lee as Mohammad Ali Jinnah
Shashi Kapoor as Narrator
James Fox as Lord Louis Mountbatten
Maria Aitken as Edwina Mountbatten
Richard Lintern as Jinnah (Younger)
Shireen Shah as Fatima Jinnah
Indira Varma as Rattanbai ('Ruttie') Jinnah
Robert Ashby as Jawaharlal Nehru
Sam Dastor as Mahatma Gandhi
Shakeel as Liaquat Ali Khan
Vaneeza Ahmed as Dina Wadia (Older)
Roger Brierley as Judge
Vernon Dobtcheff as Lord Willingdon
Rowena Cooper as Lady Willingdon
James Curran as Colonel Knowles
Michael Elwyn as Sir Cyril Radcliffe
Ian Gelder as The English police officer
Christopher Godwin as Recruitment officer In charge
John Grillo as Sir Dinshaw Petit
Talat Hussain as Refugee
John Nettleton as General Gracie
David Quilter as Porrit
Khayyam Sarhadi as Abdur Rab Nishtar
David Sterne as Birtwhistle
Marc Zuber as Allama Muhammad Iqbal
Shahid Iqbal as Barrister M. C. Chagla
Mervyn Hosein as Abul Kalam Azad
Stephen Mortlock as the English Reporter
Soundtrack by Nigel Clarke & Michael Csanyi-Wills
Despite the early criticism of the movie, it received an overwhelmingly positive response in Pakistan. Christopher Lee spoke highly of the film, calling his performance in it the best of his career as well as stressing the importance of the film.