My Pure Land

Alone against the world

Film. My Pure Land, from the Pakistani director Sarmad Masud is inspired by the true story of Nazo Dharejo who defended her house against 200 armed bandits. Assault version #metoo ?

By Lisa Moumni-Barbault

As she just turned 18 years old, Nazo Dharejo sees her house and land attacked by 200 armed bandits hired by her uncle. My Pure Land, the first feature film of Sarmad Masud (until then director for series at the Pakistani television) is based on a true story that took place in the depths of a Pakistan’s agricultural region.

“The first feature film in Urdu presented by Britain at the Oscars.”

Alone with her sister and mother after her brother had been killed by corrupt police and her father had unfairly been put in jail, Nazo will have to enforce her father’s teaching. Forward-looking, he initiated his daughters to the handling of guns as boys. Nazo, embodies by Suhaee Abro, actress, singer, dancer and choregrapher and her younger sister Saeda (Eman Malik) will risk their lives to do justice to their father.

My Pure Land does not display a graphic and gory violence as in usual assault movies like Assault by John Carpenter, Straw Dogs by Sam Peckinpah or, in another genre, Skyfall by Sam Mendes. Violence appears in a more insidious way. Nazo and Saeda’s life has no more value than a piece of land, you simply have to kill them to take their house. There it is, the real violence.

Sarmad Masud uses slow-motion possibilities with powerful ghazal musics to give a mystical dimension to the movie. The flashbacks with a pure lightness testify of a lost happiness that sharply contrasts with the scenes anchored in the present which show surreal young women in sari, kalachnikovs in the hands. Characters are fighting to gain or maintain what they have, but their lives seem governed by a superior force leaving them prey to the fate that God chose them. Do not be fooled while accepted what must happen, live in love and respect for others in a world without pity. All those paradoxes in the center of My Pure Land make it a universal story. It is also the first feature film in Urdu presented by Britain at the Oscars.