Pakistan's beautiful people come face to face with feudalism
Director Iram Parveen Bilal’s thriller has credible characters, pace and drama, plus a social conscience as a beautiful young journalist, Fatima, tangles with a ruthless village landlord over the death of her beloved maid.
For once, neither the scenes of Karachi partying nor those of terrified villagers are overdone, and Fatima is no fearless, gung-ho heroine: she is aware of the risks of cajoling a cowed village community into rebellion.
As with a number of films where reformers take on feudalists, it’s the presence of the urban media that makes the difference. In reality, reporters and TV crews intervene in only a tiny minority of cases, leaving a structure of violent, misogynistic, corrupt practices in place. But that’s a post-film reflection and not the concern of Josh, which is a remarkable debut feature.
Nevertheless, Bilal is aware of the bigger picture: “Josh is inspired by Parveen Saeed’s Khana Ghar movement [www.khanaghar.org.pk] and her concept of ‘erase hunger to erase crime’ by setting up affordable meals in and around Karachi’s slums. The film is also a tribute to all the innocent victims of retribution crime in feudal Pakistan. Josh provides insight and stimulates dialogue that can lead to positive change.”
The film employed an all-Pakistan crew and on 23 and 24 July becomes the first-ever Pakistani film to be screened by the London Indian Film Festival.
* London Indian Film Festival
* Khana Ghar movement