A quick chat with Afia Nathaniel: Dukhtar’s ‘Iron Lady’

By Momin Ali Munshi

Final Editing: Aayan Mirza

A few weeks back I was interviewing Omair Rana, and during the course of the interview Omair mentioned that he had shot for this one film and was particularly excited for it to release. What is it called I asked him? And he replied with the name, Dukhtar. That was the first time this particular name fell to my ears, and believe me, it has stuck in my head ever since.

A few days after the interview I saw Dukhtar’s poster in the newspapers which mentioned that the film would be releasing on August 14, and the poster was quite interesting to say the least! Then out came the teaser trailer which won everyone over. While the teaser hadn’t yet lived its life to full, the theatrical trailer which featured a plethora of famous actors came out, and well, it won us over again. Go to the start of this year and there was no name of this film, just in past few weeks, Dukhtar has generated a commendably huge buzz and come into the limelight!

Cut to today and Dukhtar is easily one of the most awaited films of the year and why shouldn’t it be, the film has everything working for it from a stellar star cast, to amazing production value, to the backing of GEO, however, none of this would matter if it were not for one woman and her desire to make this film. Yes, we are talking about Afia Nathaniel, the iron lady behind the creation of “Dukhtar.” Director, writer, producer, Afia recently had a good-little chat with Galaxy Lollywood where she discussed Dukhtar, her future projects and much more. Read on…

afia dukhtar

So Let’s start with this one, why Dukhtar? Why have you made a film with this particular genre?

I love working in the thriller genre. When I heard an actual story of a mother who had to run away with her two young girls, it stayed in my mind as an idea for a road-trip thriller. And so it became DUKHTAR. As you know, Dukhtar means “Daughter”. For me the film is a very personal journey of a courageous mother who wants to save her daughter from a child marriage. And since the film has the aspect of someone being hunted down – the thriller element is woven into the story itself.

The teaser is out, the trailer is out, the release date is there, when are going to hear the music of Dukhtar? 14th August is not so far you know.

You’ll hear it as an Eid launch. We have Shafqat Amanat Ali’s “Jeenay Chaley” which will be released right after Eid. And then there are the songs “Naina” by Hina Nasrullah and “Abhi saath chal” sung by Sara Raza Khan and Hina Nasrullah. Don’t worry, you’ll hear them all on radio, TV and everywhere right after Eid.

(Update: The first song of the film has been released)

They call San Francisco the hub of independent films, Dukhtar is an independent film, any chance we see your film releasing internationally, U.S. more particularly?

It’s actually New York which is the hub of independent films. We have a great chance to play to audiences all around the world especially those who love foreign language films.

Do you think Dukhtar can be Pakistan’s official submission for Oscar in 2015? Do you really feel it has what it takes to be there?

It is upto the Committee to decide. Not for me to say.

Ajab Gul - Dukhtar

So by the way, Thank you for bringing Ajab Gul back in mainstream films. How did he come on board? And on a lighter side, don’t you think he resembles Tom Cruise a little?

He does doesn’t he?  The camera really loves Ajab Gul’s face, yes. And I had asked him to grow his shave naturally for his character because I didn’t want a fake beard or shave to be put on his face.It was a great experience to pitch the film to him and have him come onboard with us. I didn’t know what a big star he was in the Pakhtun industry until we started shooting. We were very privileged to work with him and another great Pakhtun actor, Asif Khan saab as well.

Dukhtar is pretty much there, right there near its release. But what next? What sort of films would you like to make after Dukhtar? This time, maybe a 180 degree turn and an action-romance flick perhaps, what you say?

I have two different projects in mind. One is a sci-fi thriller and the other is a comedy. Every film project is different and as a filmmaker I always look for something new to do. So you’ll probably see me do a 180 degree right after Dukhtar. Who knows unless something else comes along…

So just as we go, and please take it lightly. Readers at Galaxy Lollywod wanted to know are you single?

I am married, quite happily, and have a seven year old daughter. 

Thank You so much for taking time out for us and we wish you all the best for your film and hope that it turns out to be a blockbuster.

I might be an Economics graduate from LUMS, but cinema is where my heart truly belongs. Always up for a discussion on fims and I guess you could call me a Pakistani Cinema aficionado. Email: mominalimunshi@yahoo.com