What a weekend for South Asian film! Three films of three different genres, and three important stories all premiere tonight.
First up is Armed with Faith, a documentary feature about the Khyber Pukthunkhwa Bomb Disposal Unit in Pakistan. Embedded with the under-funded, under-resourced three man unit operating in a seriously conflict wracked area, co-director Asad Faruqi tells the untold story of the risk and sacrifice wrought and demanded by state and non-state violence. Asad Faruqi has previously shot Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s award-winning film A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, and Saving Face.
Showing: Curzon Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1AW
Then, there’s Victoria and Abdul, inspired by Shrabani Basu’s book of the same name, which tells the story of Queen Victoria’s (played by Judi Dench) unlikely friendship with the young Indian clerk Abdul Karim (played by Ali Fazal). Abdul Karim became the monarch’s Private Secretary, Urdu and Hindi teacher and confidante within a year of arriving from India at the age of 24 (read here about how Basu discovered their story). His influence over the Queen, and their unconventional relationship caused furore within the royal household.The film has had mixed reviews, with criticism for its unquestioning approach to Empire, but consistent praise for Judi Dench’s performance.
Showing: Across cinemas in London
And last, and one we’re probably looking forward to the most is My Pure Land, which tells the true story of Nazo, a woman from rural Sindh who, trained to shoot by her father, defended her land against 200 bandits sent to seize it from her and her family. Dubbed a feminist masala western, it’s been chosen as the UK’s entry into the foreign language category for the Oscars. It also features Pakistani dancer Suhahee Abro in her acting debut.
Odeon Panton Street, 11/18 Panton St, London SW1Y 4DP
Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
By Seema Khan
Posted on 15 September 2017