An Exceptional Pakistani Film: Dukhtar

6 min


Film Review: Dukhtar

Growing up in Pakistan, I was always told (and later found out for myself) that the Pakistani cinema had faced a severe downfall. Since decades, it had been producing movies that were only uninteresting, obnoxious and just utterly murderous to the sense of entertainment. It was not surprising that I learnt to depend on the Hollywood and Bollywood film industries for quenching my thirst for a good, enjoyable movie every now and then.

The Revival Of The Pakistani Cinema

However, the year 2007 brought about the unexpected revival of the Pakistani cinema. Shoaib Mansoor released his big hit ‘Khuda Kay Liay’ (In The Name Of God). A fascinating metamorphosis followed this release. Other successful movies including Waar, Bol, Moor, Zinda Bhaag and Josh graced the big screen. Recently, to cater to my developing interest in Pakistani movies, I decided to watch one such film. It was called ‘Dukhtar‘ (Daughter) and had been released in 2014.

Dukhtar: A Breath Of Fresh Air

Dukhtar is a heart-warming and exciting story. It revolved around Allah Rakhi (Samiya Mumtaz) and her daughter, Zainab (Saleha Aref). It starts off at a steady pace with an element of mystification. A fifteen-year-old Allah Rakhi, who belonged to Lahore, had been married off to a much older tribal chieftain Daulat Khan (Asif Khan). Years later, Daulat Khan gets into trouble with a rival tribal leader Tor Gul (Abdullah Jaan) when he murders one of his family members.

A Glimpse of the Storyline

As is the norm there, it had to be either blood for blood or another equally brutal settlement if peace was ever to be re-established in that area. Both the parties agreed that if they would continue murdering each other’s men for revenge, peace would become impossible. So, Tor Gul suggested an alternate solution. This was an age-old injustice done to settle such feuds: offer a woman in marriage, irrespective of how unmatched that might be. In this case, it was Daulat Khan’s ten-year-old daughter who was to pay the price. She was promised to be married off to the villainous Tor Gul. This man was in fact old enough to be her grandfather!

A Distressed Mother In Action

Allah Rakhi is beyond devastated to hear of this unfortunate settlement. Nevertheless, she is well aware that try as she might, being a woman in her society meant that she had no authority in such decisions. Suffocated by the lack of other options, she decides to flee with her little daughter on her wedding day. With no definite plan in her mind or an accomplice available, she sets off on a risky adventure. Panic-striken, she first sets off on foot. Later she manages to emotionally blackmail a sympathetic truck driver Sohail (Mohib Mirza) to let them travel in his truck.

However, Sohail soon learns of the truth. He realizes the dangers associated with becoming Allah Rakhi’s partner-in-crime. Surprisingly, despite knowing that this could potentially result in his own untimely death, Sohail decides to assist Allah Rakhi. Her plan was to reach her mother in Lahore, where hopefully she and her daughter could be safe. As the story unfolds, we get to know why Sohail made this decision. We also witness what becomes of this unexpected adventure.

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Why You Should Watch It

Dukhtar is a drama-thriller film. A wonderful story of a courageous mother and her struggles to protect her daughter from a life of misery. It successfully depicts the emotions, thrills and the ups and downs experienced by the characters of the story, so much so that you feel as if you yourself are a part of that life-endangering journey. The story is realistic, exciting and full of suspense. The narrative is effective and engaging. Shot in the mesmerizing and breathtaking beauty of locations such as Hunza, Skardu and Gilgit, this film offers skillful cinematography by Armughan Hassan and Najaf Bilgrami. This surely makes it a treat for the eyes of any nature lover.

The cast does a superb job; their acting is very convincing and exceptional. The  actors have played the characters of Allah Rakhi and Sohail to perfection. In fact, they are among examples of the finest and most extraordinary acting I have ever seen! Other reknowned cast members, such as Samina Ahmed, have also performed very well. The child artist Saleha Aref is beautifully innocent and original. She puts up an immensely believable accent which gives soul to her character. The excellent performance of the actors makes them appear very human and makes the audience relate to and feel for them.

The Verdict

The film is well-focused. It is free of irrelevant and boring scenes (and songs, thankfully!) and manages to portray its story to its fullest effect. The direction, production and the story by the debutant Afia Nathaniel are also commendable. All in all, I will say that this film is a must-watch for people like me who enjoy good, meaningful movies.

Running Time: 1h 33m                                                                Genres: Drama, Thriller

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