By Saima Munir

Although an unprecedented revolution, in regard to scientific and technological advancement, that occurred in this modern and post-modern world, yet the campaign and urge for socio-moral progress of the bipeds has struggling to get on feet since the creation of Adam. Lust, greed, jealousy, ego, villainy, hatred and prejudice have always been a major threat to human development and the result is more than obvious. Every other society is getting consumed from within despite proudly claiming to be highly educated and transformed in the new millennium.

The newly released film “Dukhter” is focused on this very tragic reality of our geographically very beautiful and charming region where orthodox and wretched inhuman customs and practices are still cherished and observed with “dignity”. The story of the film revolves around the duo of a mother and daughter who run away to escape the 13-14 year-old daughter Zainab’s (nicely played by Saleha) marriage to a 60 year-old man. The mother Allah Rakhi (Samiya Mumtaz) is determined to change the fate of her daughter at any cost and dares to take riskiest steps to run away from tribal areas at the eve of the wedding of her daughter. They are luckily helped by an old Jihadi-turned- truck driver (Mohib Mirza) who manages to take them to different villages in KPK and Punjab and finally to Lahore. The film ends with a positive note, although a bit abruptly.

It is helmed by Afia Nathaniel, one of Pakistan’s most exciting filmmakers and founder of Lahore-based Zambeel Films, and produced by Muhammad Khalid Ali, seasoned producer at The Crew Films in Karachi. The film has already won applause at The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) that has become the launching pad for the best of international, Hollywood and Canadian cinema. The Discovery section of TIFF is dedicated to presenting the first or second feature films from filmmakers from around the world. Commenting on the film at the premiere, the writer and director of ‘DUKHTAR’, Afia Nathaniel says: “It’s a great honour for a Pakistani film to be selected for Toronto. We hope audiences all over the world get to enjoy this beautiful film. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. It will make you sit on the edge of the seat until the very last scene of the film. I am so looking forward to bringing ‘DUKHTAR’ home right after Toronto.”

Dukhtar is an international co-production between several countries and has high profile in the independent film community having won several prestigious and highly competitive film production awards like the Hubert Bals Fund, Sorfund and National Geographic’s All Road Seed grant, making Dukhtar the first Pakistani feature film to have all these awards under its belt. The film is set against backdrop of the surreal landscapes and roads of Hunza, Skardu, Gilgit and Kallar Kahar all the way to the urban landscape of Lahore. And chase scenes have been shot in Pakistan in below freezing conditions on one of the world’s highest altitude roads, the Karakorum Highway. It offers some of the great actors of Pakistan, including Samiya Mumtaz, Mohib Mirza, Asif Khan, Ajab Gul, Adnan Shah Tipu, Samina Ahmed, Saleha Aref, Abdullah Jaan and Omair Rana. The film’s soundtrack has been composed by Sahir Ali Bagga and Peter Nashel in New York.