Pakistani short film on Chitral suicides wins awards in New York

Pakistani short film on Chitral suicides wins awards in New York

Film director Shoaib Sultan says he did not expect a global acclamation on his debut job.
Updated 16 May, 2021

An Urdu short film on the growing incidence of suicides by women in Chitral recently won three awards at the World Film Festival in New York.

Produced by Nighat Akbar Shah and directed by Shoaib Sultan, the 30-minute Darya Ke Iss Paar revolves around a young woman, Gul Zareen, who develops psychosomatic problems in her teenage years due to the bad behaviour of the people close to her. The issues become more complex after marriage.

Her parents, husband, relatives and friends around her fail to understand her complexities, so her condition deteriorates to such an abyss of frustration that she jumps into the river to end her life, seemingly to get rid of her agony.

Writers of the story Mir Hamza, Syed Tayyib Raza and Shoaib Sultan have tried to sensitise and awaken the society to the situation and realise the issues confronted by the distressed women, who resort to the extreme step of killing themselves.

Gul Zareen is subjected to both mental and physical torture by the male members of her family, with her husband adding to her agony and depression. She finds very few people to console her.

The story has successfully highlighted the factors which force women into preferring death to life.

The film has claimed the best director, best actress and best story idea awards in the competition in which 96 films participated.

Film director Shoaib Sultan, who is based in Lahore, told Dawn that producer Nighat Akbar Shah, who belonged to Garam Chashma valley of Chitral and was settled in the US, was a social activist working for women’s rights and it was her effort to use the medium of film to create awareness of women’s social issues responsible for growing suicide incidences.

He said the issue had been exposed in the context of the local environment of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.

“The writers studied and deeply analysed the ground realities and facts before developing the synopsis of the story and developing it, for which they toured and stayed in the area while the shooting of the film was carried out in Garam Chashma, one of the most beautiful and picturesque valleys of Chitral,” he said.

Explaining the significance of the film’s name, he said it was meant to convey that jumping into a river was not the solution of a problem.

“It also meant that the local people should rely on their potentials and resources and come up with solutions and ways to translate it into action instead of looking to outsiders for help,” he said.

Mr Sultan said it was his debut job as film director and he did not expect such a world level acclamation.

“All this [accomplishment] happened due to our dedication to the cause, which addressed one of the delicate issues.”

The director said Hiba Aziz hadn’t performed such type of a role in any drama or film in the past but her performance was par excellence here.

This article was originally published in Dawn.


Orion May 16, 2021 12:33pm
Shoaib should have expected accolades, whatever shows our country in bad light does good business abroad. Its a consistent pattern.
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Nick, NY May 16, 2021 12:40pm
A controversial topic related to Pakistan will for sure win an award!
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Aamir Cheema May 16, 2021 01:15pm
Its an irony that only the Suicide Movies are made about Pakistan and they get award too...
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Fastrack May 16, 2021 01:27pm
No. We would have been surprised if the sure hit formula of highlighting Pakistan's ills rather than positivities had not won awards.
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Chrís Dăn May 16, 2021 01:30pm
BRAVO to the team. This announcement made me proud of our creative producers and writers and at the same time sad for the bitter realities exposed in movie.
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Chrís Dăn May 16, 2021 01:32pm
@Nick, NY it is not controversial. It is real.Isn't it?
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Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad May 16, 2021 01:55pm
Well done, keep it up and hang on tough.
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Zahid May 16, 2021 02:00pm
@Orion so true!
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Iqbal Aswani May 16, 2021 02:09pm
@Orion You are more than 100% right. I am surprised he said he didn't expect accolades.
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Apaarai May 16, 2021 02:12pm
Good. Now Shoaib, make movie about gender exploitation and depressed women of the West.
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IFTIKHAR May 16, 2021 02:17pm
Why they Do not make a film on black lives in USA. The lawlessness in LA and ....
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MBA May 16, 2021 02:21pm
A big BIG Congratulation for awards. Thanks to the whole team for creating awareness for this tragic situation.
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Rana May 16, 2021 02:30pm
Congratulations, another good news
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M. Saeed May 16, 2021 02:56pm
The hostile West would lift every wrong in the East to make itself more righteous.
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Asad May 16, 2021 03:14pm
Thats Great.
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Saj May 16, 2021 03:41pm
No wonder
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Wasim May 16, 2021 04:28pm
Negative about Pakistan always wins award
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Raza May 16, 2021 04:36pm
Criticism for the sake of criticism has become a habit for us. Appreciate the team’s work and take it positively.
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KUNAL MAJUMDAR May 16, 2021 05:04pm
Truthful depiction deserves praise.
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Kamran Majid May 16, 2021 05:45pm
Great! Now make a better movie showing a positive side of Pakistan and please share any awards you WON'T win
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Mobeen Zahid May 16, 2021 05:47pm
@Aamir Cheema which other Pakistani suicide movie have you seen? Do you even know what the film's message is without watching it? I have been a part of the creative production team and I know that every aspect has been meticulously researched and discussed with local authorities, social scientists and specialists in the field of psychology. This is a real problem and we need to make things better for our younger generation by acknowledging it and discussing solutions, instead of bashing a movie without even watching it and dwelling in a land of dreams where everything is alright. It is not!
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Ali May 16, 2021 06:13pm
Of course it did. Showing us as savages always wins awards. Now if the film was based on the work been done by the likes of Indus or SIUT or Edhi then it would have not even been short listed.
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FARIDA RAHMAN May 16, 2021 06:55pm
No one will appreciate the director and the writer for highlighting a taboo topic, but will certainly criticize them for showing Pakistan in bad light . For them it is ok to physically abuse their daughters and wives but to call it wrong or to highlight it , is an offence .
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Sayyar Khan May 16, 2021 11:37pm
1000 of positive but. Few negatives about Pakistan of course will win. Not that it’s a perfect country. But for Pakistani directors easy to win by showing Pakistan in negative light
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h May 17, 2021 12:46am
@Nick, NY How is this a controversial topic? What is the controversy there?
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JackJones May 17, 2021 12:51am
Excellent story. Will definitely watch it. Congratulations!!!!
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RationalBabu May 17, 2021 01:37am
@Apaarai the last word should have been Pakistan!
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RationalBabu May 17, 2021 01:39am
@Wasim maybe there aren’t many positives!
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Shujaat Khan May 17, 2021 03:31am
Good job. There will be many who will say you are bringing shame to the country. Keep your heads up, you guy's are doing the right thing, while your politicians and government have given up.
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Arshad May 17, 2021 08:35am
Can positive projection of Pakistan wins awards ?
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Zeenia Shaukat May 17, 2021 12:50pm
@Nick, NY @Aamir Cheema and @Orion, How pathetic you all are. You want the issue to be buried under the carpet so that your country's name is not mentioned in a "bad light". Seriously? People should continue to suffer - and never talked about - so that your country, that has done little to help people with mental health, is not discussed. This is not about the award. This is about the issue. Films are a way to highlight issues, which eventually lead to solutions. But never mind. Pls go hide under the sofa to continue to feel good about your country.
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Aziza May 18, 2021 01:41am
It's a fact, only movies and books that puts us in bad light are being promoted by the West. For opportunists among us it's a short cut to fame.
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Glen D'Abreo May 20, 2021 06:46am
@Orion not true whatever shows of ANY country in bad light does do good business abroad. It show our acceptance and desire to deal and correct the wrongs shows a growing nation.
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Glen D'Abreo May 20, 2021 06:48am
@IFTIKHAR How do you know they haven't ?
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Glen D'Abreo May 20, 2021 06:55am
When did it become fashionable to love your country but still accept its mistakes and correct them. This is not an East-West issue. Those that fail to take responsibility that every country has its own issues and because people love their country they want to take accountability and change it for all.
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