Friday 26 September 2014

Dukhtar’ is just what Pakistani cinema needs

05:29 By Lollywood Online No comments

The phrase ‘revival of Pakistan’s film industry’ is one we keep hearing spouted at press conferences and media launches but I often wonder, does it really mean anything at all? Only three Urdu films were released afterWaar which says a lot about quantity of films being produced – and nothing about the quality.
But then I watch a film like Afia Nathaniel’s Dukhtar, and I feel hope for Pakistani cinema. Here is a winner. Refreshingly, the producer isn’t the leading man, there are no unnecesaary item numbers nor has Shaan been inducted to boost the star power In fact, Dukhtar comes out as an understated and socially important story.
Although not without its faults, the film succeeds as a suspenseful drama that is both sensitive and thrilling. The word means ‘Dukhtar’ means daughter and this is the journey of not one but two daughters as they attempt to escape the barbaric men in their life.

 The movie is about a young girl Zainab (Saleha Arif) who is on the run with her mother Allah Rakhi (Samiya Mumtaz) as it was her father Daulat Khan (Asif Khan) who agreed to give her hand in marriage (as a peace offering) to rival tribal leader Tor Gul (Abdullah Jan). Ghorzang Khan (TV actor Adnan Shah Tipu) and Allah Rakhi’s wannabe suitor Shehbaz Khan (Ajab Gul) are amongst the pursuers while the escapees befriend a truck driver from Karachi named Sohail (Mohib Mirza) who helps them in their hour of need.
The film is quite different from what local cinema has offered recently. It doesn’t have the action scenes of Waar, tense moments like those in Main Hoon Shahid Afridi and drama like Mohib Mirza’s other movies Lamha and Josh
Director Afia Nathaniel – in her first major motion picture – must be credited for casting the best bunch of actors who suit their roles perfectly, scavenging through the country to the most breath taking locations and then combine both with a story that hasn’t been addressed by filmmakers.
Acting is the high point of the movie – Samiya Mumtaz couldn’t have hoped for a better film debut as she is present in nearly every other frame alongside her on-screen daughter played by another debutante Saleha Arif. They both have perfected the Pushto accent. Unfortunately, while both actresses have screen time it would have been interesting to see more dialogue between the two actresses post-escape. The two share only one real meaningful exchange during the harrowing ordeal and since the film is called Dukhtar one would have wished for more mother-daughter bonding (rather then a sudden truck driver romance that bloomed in a matter of days.)
Veteran Asif Khan portrays a father who takes the easy way out by agreeing to swap his daughter for peace. TV actors Ajab Gul, Mohib Mirza and Adnan Shah Tipu play the men who are tired of the chase, but can’t quit as the end is near. Renowned TV actress Samina Ahmed finally gets a chance to act in a feature film, considering her late husband Farid Ahmed was one of the finest film directors produced by Pakistan. There is a cameo role for Omair Rana as well who doesn’t disappoint like the rest of the cast.o
While the plot has a few loose ends, the over-all film remains impactful.
What makes Dukhtar so special is the cinematography – the fact that it is set in the mountains of  Hunza and Gilgit the beauty of the locations make it a must watch. The story is gripping, the execution is near perfect while the background score by Peter Nashel, and songs by Sahir Ali Bagga make you want to visit the cinema and be part of Nathaniel’s revival.


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