It is only at the end of Sarmad Masud’s My Pure Land that we discover the film is based on the true story of Nazo Dharejo, a woman confronted with the armed robbers attempting to invade her land. The story itself is just extraordinary: armed with a single Kalashikov, Nazo took it upon herself to defend her father’s property from the members of her extended family who felt they had a right to it.
The Pakistan-set Urdu drama feels, until then, something that could be programmed in the jet stream of Wonder Woman’s box office success. Shots of Suhaee Abro (cast as Nazo), her cape-like sari fluttering in the wind against a blood-red sunset is standard film vocabulary for a superhero movie. (It is in this sari that Nazo ties her bullets).
But the 92 minutes of flickering light we are graced with is all fact. And facts which are almost too good to be true. My Pure Land is a patriarchy-toppling rollercoaster ride. While much of the plot is centred on the household under siege, Masud offers moments of reprieve from ricocheting gunfire with the film’s non-linear structure. There are frequent flashbacks which nicely develop the history of the land and the dynamics between members of the family.
A film which so boldly subverts gender expectations is bound to be a success. Masud has taken it one step further with his attention to character dynamics – not to mention the horizons reminiscent of Terrence Malick’s early work.
My Pure Land is a glorious paean to the strength of female resistance. Offering the possibility of being mistaken for Patty Jenkins’ recent blockbuster, Masud has totally reimagined the sacredness of a woman’s domestic space. Don’t mess with these outlaws.
CAST: Suhaee Abro, Eman Malik, Syed Tanveer Hussain, Razia Malik, Atif Akhtar Bhatti, Tayyab Azfal, Ahsen Murad, Sahib Ahmad
DIRECTOR: Sarmad Masud
WRITER: Sarmad Masud
SYNOPSIS: A mother and her two daughters try to protect their remote Pakistan home, picking up machine guns to fight off an army of men.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]