Dukhtar (Daughter) is an epitome of parallel cinema. Unfortunately, it does not go beyond the boundaries with its message.
The storyline follows a mother (Samiya Mumtaz) and her ten-year-old daughter (Saleha Aref), who escape their home in order to restrict the girl from an arranged marriage to an elderly tribal leader.
Filled with brilliant cinematography highlighting the picturesque mountains and valleys of Northern Pakistan, Dukhtar is a gem of theatrical beauty. The cast is superb with the foremast performance by lead actress Mumtaz, with strong support from Mohib Mirza (the truck driver) and Aref who played the titular character.
The movie does have stunning direction. With more than enough artistically shot scenes. But the writing power is limited. Only some of the dialogues are worth applause, and the entire movie relies on Mumtaz to push it forward.
Another negative factor is the predictability. The is one of the most foreseeable dramas I have watched. Furthermore, the screenplay confuses the viewer into where the plot is leading them. Is it a dramatic thriller? Is it an adventure? This flick should have used a particular genre. And by trying to be multi-layered it sort of failed in this venture.
Yet, it is still one of the best non-commercial features of 2014. And I want to congratulate writer/director Afia Nathaniel in showing the world that Pakistani motion-pictures are no joke. And also for her debut being selected as an official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 87th Academy Awards.
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A.
BO101: 3 out of 4.