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My Pure Land – Apt Example Of Revival Of Pakistani Cinema

It is so uncommon to watch a film which is based on true life events and is dedicated to real life heroes of Pakistan. In India, films like Gulab Gang, Bandit Queen and Mary Kom have been made on sacrifices, issues and challenges faced by women but in Pakistan, we can hardly recall a film or two. Sam Masud geared up to showcase a real life story of Nazo Dharejo through My Pure Land. Sam’s film does not feature superstars but some great performers who can live up to their characters and perform realistically. Actors like Syed Tanveer Hussain, Suhaae Abro, Eeman Malik and others are part of Sarmad Masud’s My Pure Land.

Trailer: My Pure Land

My Pure Land revolves around the life of Nazo Dharejo who fought against 200+ men to save her integrity, house, family and identity. My Pure Land also highlights the bond between a father and his daughters, how he doesn’t consider his daughters any lesser than his son. It is a true example of women empowerment shown not only aesthetically but with sheer sincerity. Performances are topnotch and audience thoroughly engages in the plot of the film.

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Tanveer Hussain is such a brilliant and effortless actor that audience wants to see him more on the silver screen. As Nazo’s father, Tanveer simply astonishes his audience and gives impeccable performance. As Nazo, Suhaee Abro is very believable. Abro displays her talent effortlessly. For a character like Nazo, it was imperative to cast someone who could perform through eyes and have a body language which leaves a mark and Suhaee fulfils it just to perfection. Direction by Sam Masud is first-rate. Dialogues are realistic and relatable. Editing by Olly Stothert is tight and impressive; it helps audience to engage in the film for a fluid storytelling.

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On a realistic note, My Pure Land is better than many local films which are made recently, it banks on good script, earnest performances, engaging storytelling, crisp editing and good narrative; things which mostly lack in many of mainstream Pakistani films.

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Such films should be given a chance to showcase in Pakistan so that more people with good taste in films and hunger for thought provoking cinema can enjoy such work by talented and younger Pakistani filmmakers like Sam Masud. My Pure Land was released in September 2017 in UK but not in Pakistan; this seems strange. So, I decided to approach the director of the film and asked him a few questions:

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  1. Shafiq Siddiqui: What made you pick the story of Nazo Dharejo?

Sam: I think it picked me because I simply came across the story online by chance, I was immediately amazed and inspired by her strength and her courage, I felt it was an incredibly important story which needed to be told and shared.

  1. Shafiq Siddiqui: Filmmakers usually cast stars and celebrities in their films (Pakistani practice), but in My Pure Land we don’t see prominent names; was it a planned move or what?

Sam: Well, first off I will say I think our cast did an amazing job, I always knew at the heart of our film was the relationship between a father and a daughter, and we were incredibly fortunate to cast Suhaee Abro and Syed Tanveer Hussain in those roles because they are the gravity which holds this film together. The fact they aren’t currently prominent names in Pakistani cinema is something I will never understand. Their performances in this film have been widely acclaimed in every city and country this film has been screened in, their performances are transcending language barriers that’s how good they are! I sincerely hope the rest of the Pakistani film industry quickly wakes up and utilizes their amazing talents.

Was it a planned move to not cast famous names? I guess it was! It just wasn’t that kind of film, I was very conscious of the fact I wanted to make a film which felt honest and true, that rule applied to locations, costumes and cast. Also, in reality we didn’t have the budget to cast a ‘name’ actor anyway, so I was very honest from the start and told people this was a low budget film, we held open casting sessions and were prepared to meet anyone and everyone who was up for it, we went to Universities, film studios, street casting; whatever it took.

  1. Shafiq Siddiqui: How do you see Pakistani film industry? Do you plan to make commercial films or want to stick to making more real-life story based films?

Sam: I think we are still trying to find our feet and our voice, but the more filmmakers we produce the more voices we will have telling their stories their way. I think technically we need to educate and train our crews, treat the industry with respect as a viable profession and learn the craft. There is clearly an appetite amongst audiences in Pakistan to watch home grown films, which certainly bodes well.

As for me, I have another film set in Pakistan which I am currently working on, again that is based on a true story, however I don’t see why that can’t be a ‘commercial film’, I’m hoping the film will be engaging, exciting and entertaining.

  1. Shafiq Siddiqui: What kind of feedback have you received from those who have watched the film?

Sam: I have attended a few festivals where the film has been screened and the feedback has been incredibly positive. There aren’t many films from Pakistan which have screened at festivals all over the world and been shortlisted for awards, I think that is testament to the quality of our film.

  1. Shafiq Siddiqui: What according to you are the pillars of engaging, easy to connect with and successful film?

Sam: Great question and obviously very difficult to answer, if I knew the answer I would be at the Oscars every year! I think for me what’s important is character and story, if I find both of them interesting then I’m engaged. However, I also want to be entertained, this is cinema, the big screen so let’s tell a story which merits the scope of a cinematic canvas.

  1. Shafiq Siddiqui: Are you working on any other film or planning to make another one any sooner?

Sam: I’ve just finished the first draft of a feel good sports film set in the UK, I also have another film set in Pakistan I’m very excited about, I would really like to find some time to sit down and start writing that too. Plus I have a number of TV projects I am developing in the UK too.

Directors who are passionate about filmmaking and have a unique story to tell should always be supported and appreciated. When you watch My Pure Land you realize that efforts have been put in the film and the attempt to make a good film is earnest. Let’s hope that this film releases in Pakistan and those who appreciate quality cinema can experience this film.

  • Performance
  • Script
  • Direction
  • Music