My Pure Land is a Pakistani feminist Western shooting two teenage girls and their mother fighting off the bandit army for their home defence sake. This based-on-a-true-story film gives one a proper lesson in feminism: how the situation of lawlessness made young girls learn to shoot and self-defend. It is also a story of one particular family with highly appealing relations between a father and a daughter.

 

A real story became inspiration

The idea of “The Pure Land” was born spontaneously. Sarmad Masud, film director, in an interview confesses that first wanted to shoot a Pakistani Western, a remake of the 1997 Sylvester Stallone police drama and was seeking inspiration over the Internet. One day, when he was collecting materials for the script he came across a story in a newspaper about a Pakistani girl, who 20 years ago, after her father death started an armed struggle against invaders. Inspired by the story, Masud met Nazo Dharejo, that very brave girl, put together a team, launched a casting process and started filmmaking, so that plans on making an action remake was put on hold.

As regards the original story which later became the main source for the script it took its roots in a family property dispute with an uncle and a whole army of bandits. Neither police nor the local government could help solve the problem as their own interest could have crossed the interests of the opposite side.  Frankly speaking,  this story is no exception in Pakistan. Such conflicts are a considerably essential way of land privatization. Among most pressing issues are corruption and low respect to the letter of the law. Thus the story discovered by Masud should have found a huge response from the Pakistani audience.

The core of the project

The title “My Pure Land” is mostly concerned with the Pakistan’s literal meaning which is “the land of pure”. However, Sarmad Masud was not carrying the idea of romanticising his parents’ homeland. “My Pure Land” is about courage, honour and family ties against land dispute background. Depicted breathtaking landscapes is a tribute of admiration to the beauty of the ancestral land.

The core of the story, as the director says, is a touching story about the relationship between a father and his daughter. It is a father who gives Nazo a life lesson and takes a promise to defend and keep her homeland.  Pakistani society tends to be patriarchal, what makes Nazo Dharejo case an extraordinary one.  “The toughest woman in Sindh” as she already been called in media threw all the conventions out of the window. That makes sense.

 

In order to express the feeling of lawlessness and legal helplessness of three women, Masud chooses Western as a genre. Thereby the audience may be prepared for any kind of things which can happen in given conditions. On the other hand, the director asks not to concentrate on the given description of a “Pakistani feminist western”. The film is much more than the narrow framing of this definition. It also develops religious, national and ideological motives, therefore missing them is equal to missing a message.

What is this fight about

When Sarmad Masud argues regarding the balance of real-life story and fiction in “The Pure Land”, he gives the following comment: “if you want the facts, go to a historian. If you want to know how it felt, give it to a dramatist or a novelist”. His job is to express the concept, not a newswatch.

Author’s perception suggests that land is not only a material issue, a patch where you live and your house is situated. The land is a complex of more abstract ideas in addition to your personal world perception and fundamental background. It is also a potential for the future of one particular family, what could be clearly seen in the scene, where Nazo’s memories of the happiness on this land are seasoned with bandits’ invasion. Thus, the female defence of the house is not only a justice, comfort or family honour sake. It is a fight for life and peace.

 

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