Kamli, A film that stands, towers, on its own.


Nazish Brohi:
I’m no film critic, but about the gender politics: it gets it right. Kamli means mad in Punjabi I heard. I don’t know Punjabi. As far as I knew, it meant chaadar/ blanket. Which also works perfectly for the film’s title. Lift the chaadar, the featureless veneer of uniformity & normality which covers women’s lives, and exactly this crawls out. Unlabelled pain, frustrated, deflected desires and programmed blinkers. At every point, the outsider/audience can see exit points, they are always there, but the women inside can’t see them - the only options they see are those which make them agents in their own destruction.
Sania Saeed is an incredible powerhouse of an actor, it comes out in every single shot. Nimra Bucha ‘s presence and body language makes it difficult to look at anyone else when she’s on screen. Emotes even when doing something mundane like dishing out food. It’s being lauded as one of Saba Qamar’s best performances. Superb acting by the whole cast.
Sarmad Khoosat understands subtlety, which in itself puts him in a different, very small league of directors. I don’t know enough about film to say whether he’s a better director or actor - though last time I saw him act freaked me out completely. I was convinced he’ll have a breakdown after that No Time To Sleep thing which I neurotically watched for 15 hours. Almost had one myself.
In Kamli we finally have a great film we can discuss without resorting to caveats of nascent cinema revival efforts and industry limitations, without needing to watch & support a film in national solidarity.
A film that stands, towers, on its own.
A film one can criticise without guilt. So here it is: I hated the beautiful, poetic last shot & what it implied. The film chose symmetry over contradictions of will. But maybe that reservation is from the leftover activist in me.

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