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Kamli, From Pakistan With Love

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Rating: *** ½

I came  away  from Sarmad  Khoosat’s Kamli with mixed feelings…Okay, that’s a lie. In truth  I was  completely bowled over by this simple sublime fable of  loneliness and love, not necessarily in that order or any order,  told with  absolutely no flourish or flamboyance.

  For a  film about passion’s  upheavals,  Kamli is  a strangely quiet film. It focuses on  its beautiful heroine’s face  in the hope that we  would able able to read her heart from there. And  most of the time we do. Saba Qamar looking like an arresting  mix of  Priya Rajvansh and  Kitu Gidwani . leads us gently into her heart. Her Hina is a mysterious creature .She roams the jungle as if it belongs to her. And in many ways , it does!

Hina is a child of Nature. She cannot be fastened to fascist traditions. Her blind sister-in-law Sakina(Sania Saeed, a bit over-the-top, but effective) wants to  tie down Hina by  reminding her that her husband, though missing for eight years, is not technically dead.

Hina of course does exactly what her heart tells her. She promptly falls in love with a complete stranger in the woods.The lustrous forbidden  liaison has a kind of Lawrentian luminosity to it.A do-what-you-can defiance drives Hina to the brink of adultery.

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Director Khoosat shoots Hina’s intriguing passion-play like a dream. The camera swirls  and  dances  around the  couple, suggesting that the liaison  is emphatically erotic and  yet not carnal.

A  standing ovation for  the  director’s skills at conveying unconsummated passion so aesthetically, His  cinematographer Awais Gohar is one with the director’s  vision. Together they shoot the  rites of intimacy with  a gentleness and wisdom that take the couple beyond bodily desires.

I am not too sure I  appreciated the subplot about a lonely alcoholic childless wife Zeenat(Nimra Bucha)  and her  bitterness bleeding into the plot.I feel Kamli would have worked better without the bitterness of  an inwardly raging woman who wants to dispel her desolation but doesn’t know how.

Hina ,in comparison. is  far  more in control of her desires. Of course she wants companionship and  ….errr,… sex, although the ‘s’ word is   never mentioned.Tauba!  But when Hina starts getting home late, her sightless sister-in-law can SMELL  the  lust in Hina.

The twist at the end  could be seen  coming from miles away. The ending leaves  many of the  incidents  seen earlier  with question marks.

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Never mind!  Kamli is a  film that  allows itself the freedom of inconsistency. It’s about a woman who won’t follow rules. The film too is  a   rule breaker. Questioning many societal dogma about women and their needs, without disrespecting anyone.

One  of the many highlight of  Kamli is  the songs. They haunt you, gnaw at  your senses asking  you to look at the anguish and heartbreak women face when they are not given the right to experience desire.

 

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