- The Washington Times - Monday, May 19, 2003

With no bottomless Hollywood pockets or the special effects they can buy, Pakistani director Salmaan Peerzada has produced a noteworthy epic about — what else? — love, injustice and political intrigue. Filmed entirely on location on the northern frontier of Pakistan and the first international Pakistani film to be shot completely with local technicians, “Zar Gul” throws much-needed light on the obscure political, social and tribal conflicts at work in the nation.

Like so many heroes, Zar Gul witnessed injustice at a young age, when his wise father became, for murky reasons, the victim of a political assassination. Kidnapped himself by bandits soon after, Zar Gul is transformed into a contemporary Robin Hood by his thirst for vengeance. Instead of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, however, he exacts vigilante justice, executing the thuggish myrmidons of a rising and, of course, corrupt politician.

As no epic would be complete without a romantic subplot, or at least some promise or hint of sex, Zar Gul pursues and ultimately marries a schoolteacher, who must defy her parents to escape into his waiting arms.

Though Mr. Peerzada’s story is hardly unique, he is an adept storyteller, using flashbacks, first-person narrative and intertwining plot lines to create and sustain interest through the film’s three-hour-plus running time. Unfortunately, the film’s conclusion fails to flow plausibly from the action that has preceded it — a jarring final-lap stumble.

Speaking as it does on behalf of the silent and largely powerless in a region of the world not noted for its freedom of expression, Mr. Peerzada’s film is an act of artistic bravery. In an era rife with miscommunication and misunderstanding between the Islamic world and the West, his movie performs a service to those on both sides of the religious and cultural divide by portraying his countrymen in their full humanity: as men and women concerned with the daily business of life — work, politics, justice and love.

***

WHAT: “Zar Gul,” in Pashtu, Punjabi, Urdu and English, with English subtitles

WHERE: Exclusively at Visions Cinema

WHEN: One showing only, tonight at 6:30 p.m.

RATING: This film has not been rated but contains nothing objectionable.

CREDITS: Screenwriter and director Salmaan Peerzada, Cinematography by Aftab Ahmad, Producer Usmaan Peerzada, Music by Roger White, editing by Miranda Watts.

RUNNING TIME: 190 minutes

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide