Dukhtar

A mother takes the potentially deadly decision to save her 10-year-old daughter from an arranged marriage to a wizened mountain tribal leader. Mother and daughter make their escape.


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  • Director Afia Nathaniel
  • Producers Afia Nathaniel, Muhammad Khalid Ali
  • Screenwriter Afia Nathaniel
  • With Samiya Mumtaz, Mohib Mirza, Saleha Aref
  • Pakistan-USA-Norway 2014
  • 93 mins
  • Production company Zambeel Films

Amidst the grand, gorgeously photographed vistas of Pakistan’s northern mountains, two wizened tribal leaders, Daulat Khan and Tor Gul, meet to agree a truce. The only way the conflict between the clans can be settled is if aged Tor Gul is married to his rival’s bloodline, Daulat Khan’s 10-year-old daughter Zainab. The marriage is agreed but Allah Rakhi (Samiya Mumtaz), realising that her daughter is about to fall victim to the same fate she experienced as a girl, makes a dangerous decision. She runs away with Zainab on the wedding day. Both warlords are now disgraced and send a swarm of killers down the mountain after the escaping pair. Pakistani writer-director Afia Nathaniel’s debut feature is a gripping road movie thriller that explores the disturbing plight of child brides and tells of one courageous mother who takes a stand. Within the plot’s subtext Nathaniel subtly unveils the connected struggles of generations of women shouldering adversity.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney