February 3, 2023

Documentary review: Pakistan is a feeling

Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Fatima Jinnah are seen in the screengrab from the documentary.
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Fatima Jinnah are seen in the screengrab from the documentary.

As she stirs a glass of Rooh Afza to accurately represent the essence of Pakistan in an earnest and personal short-film, Ayesha Mir — the promising documentary-maker — pours her heart out.

Providing a vivid image of the journey of Pakistan through historic videos, Mir is seen courageously sharing her raw emotions about the country that she says she cannot seem to let go of despite being away from it and feeling unsafe in it.

In 80 minutes, Mir does not only summarise her life but also Pakistan’s. “If only the British had not looted our country and left in haste,” she begins, as the film shows gripping snaps of people migrating from India to Pakistan. She maintains a grief-stricken tone throughout the film, with the absence of music making her story-telling (heartbreakingly) real.

Mir becomes vulnerable in the moving portrayal of the country’s shaky 75 years of life, wishing she “could talk about Pakistan without being called a traitor”. The documentary highlights the contradictions that are so conveniently present in the nation like electing the first female prime minister of the Muslim world but also not allowing girls to receive education.

Showing the viewers what makes Pakistan, the film features some of the most heartwarming reminders of our beings as Pakistanis including Hashmi Kajal, a miniature autorickshaw, Madam Noor Jehan, and traditional chand baliyan.

Thought-provoking, poignant and emotive, the film leaves the viewers questioning what the filmmaker wonders too: “What is the use of my post-colonial critique if I need to escape to the West to find refuge?”

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