Pakistani director Sabiha Sumar and Indian actor Kalki Koechlin take an inspiring and stunning transnational journey through India and Pakistan, uncovering the common humanity beyond the divisive political rhetoric.
Azmaish: A Journey Through the Subcontinent
Pakistan and India were born in 1947 and forged in a cauldron of empire, ideology, and imagined communities. It's no wonder they've become only more complex.
Filmmaker Sabiha Sumar is one of Pakistan's most prominent observers. Her documentary Dinner with the President asked hard questions of a wide range of her fellow Pakistanis, including its leader. Now, Sumar turns to the intractable bond and irresolvable tension that defines Pakistan — its relationship with India. But this is not a film about diplomatic strife. Returning to her quiet, insistent method, Sumar travels the two countries asking questions that roll up into one monumental concern: how did growing fundamentalism bring Pakistan and India to the same dangerous threshold?
In Pakistan, Sumar visits a rural landowner whose property is home to a million people. He has much to say about Islamic fundamentalism, less about feudalism. In India, Sumar enlists her friend, the actor Kalki Koechlin, to explore the rise of Hindu fundamentalism. They speak with vocal advocates for India as a Hindu state, each woman despairing at the decline of secular thought and the narrowing of expression they see in both nations.
Azmaish is above all a personal film. Sumar and Koechlin travel and speak as close friends, thoughtful about the currents of history, economics, and culture that inform the present moment in Pakistan and India, but well aware that they're unlikely to land on easy answers. Koechlin quotes the truism about her country: "Whatever is true in India, the opposite is also true." The same holds across the border.