Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Daughter (orig. Dukhtar) [2014]

MPAA (UR would be R)   Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing

The Hollywood Reporter (D. Young) review
Variety (J. Weissberg) review

Daughter (orig. Dukhtar) [2014] (written and directed by Afia Nathaniel [wikip] [IMDb]) was Pakistan's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film to the 2014 (87th Academy) Academy Awards.  The film played recently at the 2015 (6th Annual) Chicago South Asian Film Festival.

Beautifully shot and set largely in the Federally Administered Tribal Region of Pakistan, it tells the story of a Pakistani mother Allah Rakhi (played by Samiya Mumtaz [wikip] [IMDb]) seeking to protect her 10 year old daughter Zainab (played by Saleha Aref [IMDb]) from being married-off by her husband / tribal leader Daulat Khan (played by Asif Khan [IMDb]) as an "alliance building / peace offering" to a rival tribal leader Tor Gul (played by Abdullah Jan [IMDb]). 

Allah Rakhi herself, though raised already in Lahore (Pakistan's second largest city) had been married-off at 15 by her (perhaps first generation city-residing) family to the much older Khan and _didn't want_ her daughter to suffer the same fate. 

To be totally fair, even Khan wasn't exactly happy with Gul's offer -- "peace" / a tribal alliance in exchange for your 10 year old daughter -- BUT ... "What's a tribal leader to do?"  Many people of both Khan's / Gul's clans "stood to die" if "peace" was not (re)established between them.

If this all sounds like both a Greek tragedy (think honestly of Iphigenia ...) and positively medieval (where kings, sultans and emperors married off their daughters all the time to make peace with one or another rival king, sultan or emperor...), well THAT'S THE FILM'S POINT (!).

Angry that she herself never saw her own mother after being married off to Khan, Allah Rakhi (whose name means "Allah protects") packs up her daughter and makes a run for it from the Tribal Region toward Lahore, in hopes of first finding and then being (again she hopes...) protected by her family there.  On the way, she receives the help of a sympathetic truck driver Sohail (played by Mohib Mirza [wikip] [IMDb]).  Much of course ensues in this very simple yet profoundly personalist thriller ...

Excellent and again BEAUTIFULLY SHOT film ...

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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